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Study Addresses Short-Term Costs in Cancer Screening

Answers economic questions regarding the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program

THURSDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- The average costs for breast and cervical cancer screening provided under a national program established by the U.S. Congress are similar to other screening estimates reported in the literature, according to research published online Dec. 21 in the journal Cancer.

Donatus U. Ekwueme, Ph.D., of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues collected information on activity-based costs for screening for breast and cervical cancer from nine programs participating in the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program helps provide breast and cervical cancer screening, diagnostic testing and follow-up services to medically underserved, low-income women.

Taking into account in-kind (non-federal) contributions, the cost of screening in the programs was an estimated $555 for each woman served. The median costs of screening a woman for cervical cancer was $56 and for breast cancer was $94. The median cost per cervical cancer detected was $13,340 and per breast cancer detected was $10,566.

"It is our hope that addressing these economic issues will provide invaluable information that program directors and managers can use to make informed decisions on how to allocate NBCCEDP resources more efficiently. It also will provide a framework for establishing the minimum number of NBCCEDP-eligible women who can be screened given the resources available," the authors conclude.

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