Colonoscopy is more effective than annual fecal occult blood tests and could reduce the number of operations for cancer by more than 50 per cent, according to the analysis to be presented to the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology next week.
Researchers at Duke University, North Carolina, US, studied more than 8000 patients over the age of 50 in their local managed care system - gathering information about investigations and treatment for colorectal cancer over a ten-year period.
They then compared the impact of a hypothetical colonoscopy programme with the existing occult blood tests.
According to their analytical model, routine colonoscopy screening would have meant a four-fold increase in the number of colonoscopies performed: from 3187 to 12 326. But just 50 patients would have had to undergo surgery compared with 116 who actually did - a saving of one million US dollars.
"A screening program of this kind appears to be highly cost effective compared to other screening practices."
Dr Dawn Provenzale.
The costs of chemotherapy and radiation treatment for patients would have fallen by 58 per cent, they will tell the conference.
And just eight patients would have died from the disease - compared with 17 who did in real life.
However these savings have to be set against the cost of a screening programme - which would have been more than US$5.6 million over the ten years. The researchers said this amounted to US$6 230 for every year of life saved - and compared well with mammography screening programmes for breast cancer.
Researcher Dr Dawn Provenzale said: "Even though the additional direct cost of a colonoscopy screening program is large, the expense can be justified by the savings obtained from a reduced utilization of cancer care and the number of cancer deaths avoided.
"Certainly, a screening program of this kind appears to be highly cost effective compared to other screening practices when used in a managed-care setting."
Report Copyright: Englemed Health News at http://www.internationalmedicalnews.com