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In Estonia, organized cervical cancer screening program is targeted at women aged 30–55(59) years and Pap-tests are taken every five years. Since cervical cancer is associated with human papillomavirus (HPV), a number of countries have introduced the HPV-test as the primary method of screening. The objective of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of organized cervical cancer screening program in Estonia by comparing HPV- and Pap-test based strategies.
For the cost-effectiveness analysis, a Markov cohort model was developed. The model was used to estimate costs and quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs) of eight screening strategies, varying the primary screening test and triage scenarios, upper age limit of screening, and testing interval. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) were calculated in comparison to current screening practice as well as to the next best option. Sensitivity analysis was performed by varying one or more similar parameter(s) at a time, while holding others at their base case value. The analysis was performed from the healthcare payer perspective adopting a five percent annual discount rate for both costs and utilities.
In the base-case scenario, ICER for HPV-test based strategies in comparison to the current screening practice was estimated at EUR 8,596–9,786 per QALY. For alternative Pap-test based strategies ICER was estimated at EUR 2,332–2,425 per QALY. In comparison to the next best option, HPV-test based strategies were dominated by Pap-test based strategies. At the cost-effectiveness threshold of EUR 10,000 per QALY Pap-testing every three years would be the cost-effective strategy for women participating in the screening program from age 30 to 63 (ICER being EUR 3,112 per QALY).
Decreasing Pap-test based screening interval or changing to HPV-test based screening can both improve the effectiveness of cervical cancer screening program in Estonia, but based on the current cost-effectiveness study Pap-test based screening every three years should be preferred.
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