Decision analysis for the cost-effective management of recurrent colorectal cancer

Ann Surg. 2001 Mar;233(3):310-9. doi: 10.1097/00000658-200103000-00003.


Objective: To determine whether the use of [(18)F]2-fluoro-2-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG PET) in addition to computed axial tomography (CT) is helpful in managing recurrent colorectal cancer (CRC).

Summary background data: There is no consensus on a management algorithm for CRC. However, when recurrence is suspected, CT is generally used for further evaluation and staging of disease.

Methods: The authors used decision trees based on theoretical models to assess the cost-effectiveness of a CT + FDG PET strategy for the diagnosis and management of recurrent CRC compared with a CT-alone strategy. These theoretical models focus on patients with hepatic recurrence who are potentially curable through surgical hepatic resection. The population entering the decision trees consisted of patients with CRC who had undergone surgical resection of their primary CRC and who were suspected of having recurrence based on elevated levels of carcinoembryonic antigen.

Results: The CT + FDG PET strategy was found to be cost-effective for managing patients with elevated carcinoembryonic antigen levels who were candidates for hepatic resection. The CT + FDG PET strategy was higher in mean cost by $429 per patient but resulted in an increase in the mean life expectancy of 9.527 days per patient.

Conclusions: These results show, through rigorous decision tree analysis, the potential cost-effectiveness of FDG PET in the management of recurrent CRC. The decision trees can be used to model various features of the management of recurrent CRC, including the cost-effectiveness of other newly emerging technologies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / mortality
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Trees*
  • Direct Service Costs*
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18*
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Liver Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Liver Neoplasms / economics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / mortality
  • Liver Neoplasms / secondary
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neoplasm Staging / economics
  • Neoplasm Staging / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Survival Analysis
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / economics*
  • Tomography, Emission-Computed / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / economics


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18