Cost of Unnecessary Prostate Biopsies

Patient Health and Experience

Like any medical procedure, there are some risks associated with a prostate biopsy. Pain, bleeding and the risk of infection (complications) can occur after a prostate biopsy, which involves making multiple incisions in the prostate. Although most complications are temporary and mild, they come with economic consequences and occur to the detriment of the patient’s health or comfort. Therefore, it’s ideal to only perform a biopsy when the benefits clearly outweigh the risks.

 The Challenge of Prostate Biopsy Decision Making

Unnecessary Prostate BiopsiesA prostate biopsy can either find high-grade (aggressive) cancer, low-grade cancer or not find any cancer. If the biopsy shows aggressive cancer, which occurs about 20% of the time, it is likely that a patient will be treated and their disease-free survival prospects for all but highly advanced diseases are excellent. However, about 60% of men will have a negative biopsy and about 20% of men will be diagnosed with a low-grade (Gleason Score 6) prostate cancer.

Men with an initial finding of no cancer will usually be followed with PSA testing and if there is a rise in PSA or other clinical change, a repeat biopsy will be recommended. The problem of over diagnosis becomes particularly critical with finding of low-grade Gleason Score 6 cancer, as it may lead to uncertainty as to what course of action to take. Recent studies have demonstrated no benefit to treating Gleason Score 6 disease versus active monitoring.

Therefore, it is important to find tools that help limit prostate biopsy to those patients who are at a high risk of having aggressive prostate cancer. The 4Kscore Test, in targeting aggressive cancer discrimination, can help to reduce the number of negative biopsies and biopsies finding low-grade cancers.


How do I know whether I have aggressive prostate cancer?