Objectives: Clinical trials have demonstrated that fecal occult blood screening for colorectal cancer can significantly reduce mortality. However, to be deemed a priority from a public health policy perspective, any new program must prove itself to be cost-effective. The objective of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of screening for colorectal cancer using a fecal occult blood screening test, the Hemoccult-II, in a cohort of 100,000 asymptomatic individuals 50–74 years of age.
Methods: A decision analysis model using a Markov approach simulates the trajectory of the cohort allocated either to screening or no screening over a 20-year period through several health states. Clinical and economic data used in the model came from the Burgundy trial, French population-based studies, and Registry data.
Results: Modeling biennial screening versus the absence of screening over a 20-year period resulted in a 17.7 percent mortality reduction and a discounted incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of 3,357 € per life-year gained among individuals 50–74 years of age. Sensitivity analyses performed on epidemiological and economic data showed the strong impact on the results of colonoscopy cost, of compliance to screening, and of specificity of the screening test.
Conclusions: Cost-effectiveness estimates and sensitivity analyses suggest that biennial screening for colorectal cancer with fecal occult blood test could be recommended from the age of 50 until 74. Our findings support the attempts to introduce large-scale population screening programs.