Cost-effectiveness of a modified care protocol substituting bladder tumor markers for cystoscopy for the followup of patients with transitional cell carcinoma of the bladder: A decision analytical approach

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Purpose: Decision analysis models were established to determine the cost-effectiveness of a plan alternating a bladder tumor marker with cystoscopy and cytology at 3-months intervals or modified care versus followup cystoscopy and cytology every 3 months or standard care. Materials and Methods: We performed a comprehensive literature review for bladder tumor markers using 1966 to current MEDLINE data and other search engines. Statistical performance data on tumor markers were calculated by hierarchical Bayes meta-analysis with 95% confidence intervals used for the model. Other basic assumptions included cost data on tumor markers, cytology, cystoscopy, transurethral bladder resection and cystectomy as well as recurrence and progression rates from the literature. Decision trees were built with computer software using a 12 and a 24-month model with linear recurrence and progression rate assumptions. Results: Overall specificity for common tumor markers was 73% to 90% and sensitivity was 49% to 77%. As expected, sensitivity increased for higher disease grades and stages. The modified care protocol was more cost-effective than standard care for the 1 and 2-year followups. On 1-year 1-way sensitivity analysis for cost only tumor marker cost, recurrence and progression rates achieved a threshold at which the modified care protocol was as or more expensive as standard care. Modified care was more cost-effective at a tumor marker cost of less than $264. On 2-way sensitivity analysis there was no significant impact of parameters at a wide range of tumor marker costs, recurrence and progression rates. Conclusions: Using a modified followup protocol in transitional cell carcinoma cases with an initial tumor occurrence using a urine based tumor marker alternating with cystoscopy and/or cytology is cost-effective for a wide range of marker sensitivities, specificities and costs, cystoscopy and/or cytology cost, a 20% to 80% yearly recurrence and a 2% to 40% yearly progression rate. This protocol should be evaluated in a prospective randomized trial to determine whether the financial and emotional benefits outweigh any potential drawbacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-79
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Urology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2002



  • Biological
  • Bladder
  • Bladder neoplasms
  • Carcinoma
  • Cost-benefit analysis
  • Transitional cell
  • Tumor markers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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