Economic Evaluation of Urine-Based or Magnetic Resonance Imaging Reflex Tests in Men With Intermediate Prostate-Specific Antigen Levels in the United States

Fred Hutch model of prostate cancer



For men with intermediate prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels (4-10 ng/mL), urine-based biomarkers and multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are increasingly used as reflex tests before prostate biopsy. We assessed the cost effectiveness of these reflex tests in the United States.


We used an existing microsimulation model of prostate cancer (PCa) progression and survival to predict lifetime outcomes for a hypothetical cohort of 55-year-old men with intermediate PSA levels. Urine-based biomarkers—PCa antigen (PCA3), TMPRSS2:ERG gene fusion (T2:ERG), and the MyProstateScore (MPS) for any PCa and for high-grade (Gleason score ≥7) PCa (MPShg)—were generated using biomarker data from 1112 men presenting for biopsy at 10 United States institutions. MRI results were based on published sensitivity and specificity for high-grade PCa. Costs and utilities were sourced from literature and Medicare reimbursement schedules. Outcome measures included life years, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and lifetime medical costs per patient. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were empirically calculated on the basis of simulated life histories under different reflex testing strategies.


Biopsying all men provided the most life years and QALYs, followed by reflex testing using MPShg, MPS, MRI, T2:ERG, PCA3, and biopsying no men (QALY range across strategies 15.98-16.09). Accounting for costs, MRI and MPShg were dominated by other strategies. PCA3, T2:ERG, and MPS were likely to be the most cost-effective strategy at willingness-to-pay thresholds of $100,000/QALY, $125,000/QALY, and $150,000/QALY, respectively.


Using PCA3, T2:ERG, or MPS as reflex tests has greater economic value than MRI, biopsying all men, or biopsying no men with intermediate PSA levels.

Value in Health
Nathaniel Hendrix
Nathaniel Hendrix
Postdoctoral Research Fellow