Colorectal cancer screening is effective and cost-effective. However, there is little data on the direct economic implications of colorectal cancer screening programs.
In this study, a team of investigators from the United States assessed the prediagnosis evaluation and first-year treatment costs of individuals diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Patients were stratified by whether the cancer was detected by screening or by symptom evaluation.
The investigators compared total health care costs from 3 months before and 12 months following diagnosis.
|53% of screen-detected cases were Dukes’ stage A.|
During the study period, 206 cancers were detected by screening and 717 by symptoms.
The team calculated that in the 3 months before diagnosis, total costs were $7346 for persons with screen-detected, compared with $10,042 for those with symptom-detected cancer.
When stratified by stage, they determined that diagnosis costs were significantly lower for persons with stage B cancer ($7282 versus $11,682).
The investigators found that a total of 53% of screen-detected cases were Dukes’ stage A, compared with 30% of symptom-detected cases.
They also found that overall costs were lower for the screen-detected patients the 12 months following diagnosis ($22,369 versus $29,471).
Dr Scott Ramsey's team concluded, "Colorectal cancer screening can substantially reduce prediagnosis evaluation costs".
"These savings are of interest to health plans and should be factored into cost-effectiveness evaluations of screening programs".