An evaluation of the economic costs and patient-related consequences of treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia

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To compare the costs and effectiveness of treatments for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), including watchful waiting, pharmaceuticals (α-blockers, 5-α-reductase inhibitors, combined therapy), transurethral microwave thermotherapy (TUMT), and transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP).


This study used a Markov model over a 20-year period and the societal perspective to evaluate the costs of treatment alternatives for BPH. Markov states include urinary symptom improvement, symptom improvement with adverse effects, or no urinary symptom improvement. For the analysis, patients could remain on their initial treatment, change to a different treatment, have treatment failure that required TURP, or die (all-cause mortality). We used published data for outcomes, including systematic reviews when possible. Costs were estimated using a managed-care claims database and Medicare fee schedules. Costs and effectiveness outcomes were discounted at 3%/year where appropriate. Men (aged ≥ 45 years) with moderate-to-severe lower urinary tract symptoms and uncomplicated BPH were included in the analysis, and results were stratified by age. Outcomes include costs, disease progression, surgery, hospitalization, and catheterization time.


What is the ‘best’ treatment depends on the value that an individual and society place on costs and consequences. α−Blockers are less expensive than the alternatives, and are effective at relieving patient-reported symptoms. Unfortunately, they have little effect on clinical outcomes and have the highest BPH progression rate. Other treatments have lower disease progression and better clinical outcomes, but are more expensive and entail more invasive treatments, and/or more uncertainty.


Treatment decisions are made using a variety of information, including the cost and consequences of treatment. The best treatment depends on the patient's preference and the outcome considered most important. α-Blockers are very effective at treating urinary symptoms but do not improve clinical outcomes, including disease progression, relative to other treatments. TURP remains the ‘gold standard’ for surgical procedures. The desire to avoid TURP or the 2 weeks of catheterization associated with TUMT might affect a patient's treatment decision when symptoms are severe. Therefore, more information about patient preferences and risk aversion is needed to inform treatment decision-making for BPH.

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