More Widespread Colorectal Cancer Screening Expensive

Could reduce incidence and mortality, but with significant additional cost

THURSDAY, Oct. 20 (HealthDay News) -- Increased screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) could cut CRC incidence by up to 54% and CRC mortality by up to 60%, but may cost an additional $2.8 billion in national health care expenses, according to estimates published in the October issue of Gastroenterology.

Uri Ladabaum, M.D., and Kenneth Song, M.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, used a Markov model and census data to analyze the clinical and cost effectiveness of screening 75% of the U.S. population with conventional and emerging CRC screening strategies.

The authors found that CRC incidence could be cut by 17% to 54% and CRC mortality by 28% to 60% with broad screening including colonoscopy. While expenditures for CRC-related care might be cut from $8.4 billion to as low as $1.5 billion, the screening program would add an additional $9.2 billion to $15.4 billion.

Despite the additional resources required for widespread screening, the authors suggest it may be considered cost-effective by today's standards. The cost impact of emerging CRC screening strategies, such as computed tomography-based virtual colonoscopy and fecal DNA testing, "will depend on the extent to which they replace screening colonoscopy or increase screening uptake in the population," the authors write.

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Barry Thrash

Barry Thrash

Updated on February 15, 2006

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