Cost-effectiveness of preventive strategies for women with a BRCA1 or a BRCA2 mutation

Ann Intern Med. 2006 Mar 21;144(6):397-406. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-144-6-200603210-00006.


Background: For BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers, decision analysis indicates that prophylactic surgery or chemoprevention leads to better survival than surveillance alone.

Objective: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the preventive strategies that are available to unaffected women carrying a single BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation with high cancer penetrance.

Design: Markov modeling with Monte Carlo simulations and probabilistic sensitivity analyses.

Data sources: Breast and ovarian cancer incidence and mortality rates, preference ratings, and costs derived from the literature; the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program; and the Health Care Financing Administration (now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).

Target population: Unaffected carriers of a single BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation 35 to 50 years of age.

Time horizon: Lifetime.

Perspective: Health policy, societal.

Interventions: Tamoxifen, oral contraceptives, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, mastectomy, both surgeries, or surveillance.

Outcome measures: Cost-effectiveness.

Results of base-case analysis: For mutation carriers 35 years of age, both surgeries (prophylactic bilateral mastectomy and oophorectomy) had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio over oophorectomy alone of 2352 dollars per life-year for BRCA1 and 100 dollars per life-year for BRCA2. With quality adjustment, oophorectomy dominated all other strategies for BRCA1 and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of 2281 dollars per life-year for BRCA2.

Results of sensitivity analysis: Older age at intervention increased the cost-effectiveness of prophylactic mastectomy for BRCA1 mutation carriers to 73,755 dollars per life-year. Varying the penetrance, mortality rates, costs, discount rates, and preferences had minimal effects on outcomes.

Limitations: Results are dependent on the accuracy of model assumptions.

Conclusion: On the basis of this model, the most cost-effective strategies for BRCA mutation carriers, with and without quality adjustment, were oophorectomy alone and oophorectomy and mastectomy, respectively.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Genes, BRCA1*
  • Genes, BRCA2*
  • Genetic Testing / economics
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Markov Chains
  • Mastectomy / economics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Mutation
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Ovariectomy / economics*