Almost half of all men and a third of all women in the United States will receive a cancer diagnosis at some time in their lives. A prostate cancer diagnosis often comes with little warning and can bring on significant anxiety and fear to patients and their families. So, how much does prostate cancer treatment cost?
“The cost for prostate cancer treatment is pretty significant when one considers that you’re looking at about $20-$25,000 whether you have surgery or radiation,” says Steven G. Lester, M.D., F.A.C.R.O., a board-certified radiation oncologist, at Central Florida Cancer Care Center.
“Usually, patients don’t make a decision based on cost because both treatments are standard and are covered by insurance.”
What Is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is marked by an uncontrolled (malignant) growth of cells in the prostate gland. The prostate is a walnut-sized gland in men, located just below the bladder and in front of the rectum, surrounding the urethra – the tube that carries urine out of the bladder. The prostate produces and stores fluid that helps to make semen, and is involved in regulating bladder control.
Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. Usually, prostate cancer grows slowly and is initially confined to the prostate gland, where it may not cause serious harm. However, when it becomes more aggressive, prostate cancer can also spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body.
Prostate cancer that’s detected early — when it’s still limited to the prostate gland has a better chance of successful treatment.
Breaking Down the Costs of Treatment
Dr. Lester understands that the costs of prostate cancer treatment may seem high, especially when patients spend but a few minutes in the treatment room. However, he is quick to point out that it’s important for patients to understand all the factors that contribute to the expense.
“Why is radiation is so costly?” Dr. Lester asks. “First of all, the treatment room has to protect the personnel and the lay public, who are not in the room, from the radiation; because only the patient can be in the room.”
“The treatment room itself is eight to ten feet of poured concrete at the primary beam. So you’re looking at $800,000 to $1 million just for the treatment room and about two to three million dollars for the treatment machine plus all the support services.”
Cutting-Edge Technology Means Better Cure Rates
Central Florida Cancer Care Center strives to improve the patient experience at every turn, and their mission is to treat patients with compassion, using the most advanced and accurate technology available.
“Radiation is a very high-end capital cost procedure,” Dr. Lester continues. “And now we see surgery with the use of robots, such as the laparoscopic robot, which is also a very impressive, high-tech piece of equipment. What patients need to realize is as we’ve improved the technology the cost has gone up, but we’ve also reduced the side effects, improved the aim, and the cure rate.”
With advanced technology comes the need for highly-trained and experienced personnel who thoroughly understand the equipment. “There is a significant cost, but there are also a lot of personnel working in the background, engineers keeping the machines going, and the physicists doing the quality assurance,” says Dr. Lester.
“There’s a lot that goes on beyond the three to four minutes of treatment time. So when you look at the overall cost of prostate cancer treatment, you realize that you’re getting a lot for the money you pay, or that your insurer pays. However, what you’re really getting is rid of a life-altering or life-ending cancer that’s going to cost a lot more if we don’t cure it. Therefore, we don’t think the cost is that much when you consider the benefit.”
If you have any questions or need more information about prostate cancer treatment cost or procedures, please feel free to contact us.