Pharmacotherapy vs surgery as initial therapy for patients with moderate-to-severe benign prostate hyperplasia: a cost-effectiveness analysis

BJU Int. 2018 Nov;122(5):879-888. doi: 10.1111/bju.14520. Epub 2018 Sep 11.


Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of using a surgery, such as transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) or photoselective vaporisation of the prostate using greenlight laser (GL-PVP), as initial treatment for men with moderate-to-severe benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) compared to the standard practice of using pharmacotherapy as initial treatment followed by surgery if symptoms do not resolve.

Patients and methods: We compared a combination of eight strategies involving upfront pharmacotherapy (i.e., α-blocker, 5α-reductase inhibitor, or combination) followed by surgery (e.g. TURP or GL-PVP) upon failure vs TURP or GL-PVP as initial treatment, for a target population of men with moderate-to-severe BPH symptoms, with a mean age of 65 years and no contraindications for treatment. A microsimulation decision-analytic model was developed to project the costs and quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) of the target population over the lifetime. The model was populated and validated using published literature. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were determined. Cost-effectiveness was evaluated using a public payer perspective, a lifetime horizon, a discount rate of 1.5%, and a cost-effectiveness threshold of $50 000 (Canadian dollars)/QALY. Sensitivity and probabilistic analyses were performed.

Results: All options involving an upfront pharmacotherapy followed by TURP for those who fail were economically unattractive compared to strategies involving a GL-PVP for those who fail, and compared to using either BPH surgery as initial treatment. Overall, upfront TURP was the most costly and effective option, followed closely by upfront GL-PVP. On average, upfront TURP costs $1015 more and resulted in a small gain of 0.03 QALYs compared to upfront GL-PVP, translating to an incremental cost per QALY gained of $29 066. Results were robust to probabilistic analysis.

Conclusions: Surgery is cost-effective as initial therapy for BPH. However, the health and economic evidence should be considered concurrently with patient preferences and risk attitudes towards different therapy options.

Keywords: Benign prostate hyperplasia; Cost-effectiveness analysis; Decision analysis; Microsimulation model; Photoselective vaporization of the prostate; Transurethral resection of the prostate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / economics
  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Aged
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy / economics
  • Laser Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia* / economics
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia* / epidemiology
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia* / surgery
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Transurethral Resection of Prostate / economics
  • Transurethral Resection of Prostate / statistics & numerical data


  • 5-alpha Reductase Inhibitors