Screening and surveillance for Barrett esophagus in high-risk groups: a cost-utility analysis

Ann Intern Med. 2003 Feb 4;138(3):176-86. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-138-3-200302040-00009.


Background: Once-in-a-lifetime screening for Barrett esophagus has been proposed for patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but there is little evidence of its cost-effectiveness.

Objective: 1) To determine the cost-effectiveness of screening high-risk groups for Barrett esophagus and providing surveillance to patients with Barrett esophagus and dysplasia or to all patients with Barrett esophagus and 2) to compare the results with the cost-effectiveness of no screening or surveillance.

Design: A decision analytic model was developed to examine no screening or surveillance and screening and surveillance for Barrett esophagus with dysplasia only or Barrett esophagus without dysplasia every 2 to 5 years. Low- or high-grade dysplasia received surveillance every 6 or 3 months, respectively.

Data sources: Published literature and the Health Care Financing Administration.

Target population: 50-year-old white men with symptoms of GERD.

Time horizon: 50 years of age until 80 years of age or death.

Perspective: Third-party payer.

Outcome measure: Incremental cost-effectiveness ratio.

Results of base-case analysis: Screening with surveillance limited to patients with Barrett esophagus with dysplasia required $10 440 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) saved compared to no screening or surveillance. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of surveillance every 5 years in patients with Barrett esophagus without dysplasia compared to surveillance of patients with Barrett esophagus with dysplasia was $596 000 per QALY saved.

Results of sensitivity analysis: The annual incidence of adenocarcinoma must exceed 1 case per 54 patient-years of follow-up (1.9%) for surveillance of Barrett esophagus without dysplasia every 5 years to yield an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio less than $50 000 per QALY saved.

Conclusions: Screening 50-year-old men with symptoms of GERD to detect adenocarcinoma associated with Barrett esophagus is probably cost-effective. However, subsequent surveillance of patients with Barrett esophagus but no dysplasia, even at 5-year intervals, is an expensive practice.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenocarcinoma / epidemiology
  • Adenocarcinoma / etiology
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Barrett Esophagus / diagnosis*
  • Barrett Esophagus / etiology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Decision Support Techniques
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / etiology
  • Esophagus / pathology
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux / complications*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Markov Chains
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Precancerous Conditions / diagnosis*
  • Precancerous Conditions / etiology
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity