Objectives: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of population screening for Helicobacter pylori in preventing gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease in England and Wales.
Methods: A discrete event simulation model used parameter estimates, derived from peer-reviewed literature, routine data and statistical modelling. Population screening was compared with no screening but with opportunistic eradication in patients presenting with dyspepsia. Costs included screening, eradication and costs averted to provide costs per life years saved (cost/LYS) for preventing gastric cancer and peptic ulcer disease. Sensitivity analyses were undertaken.
Results: The cost/LYS from screening at age 40 years was Uk pounds 5860 at discount rates of 6%. The outcomes were sensitive to H. pylori prevalence, the degree of opportunistic eradication, the discount rate, the efficacy of eradication on gastric cancer risk, the risk of complicated peptic ulcer disease and gastric cancer associated with H. pylori infection, and the duration of follow-up. In sensitivity analyses, the cost/LYS rarely exceeded UK pounds 20000 over an 80-year follow-up, but did for shorter periods.
Conclusions: H. pylori screening may be cost-effective in the long term. However, before screening can be recommended further evidence is needed to resolve some of the uncertainties, particularly over the efficacy of eradication on risk of gastric cancer, the risk associated with complicated peptic ulcers, and the effect of more widespread opportunistic testing of patients with dyspepsia.