Background: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently approved screening high-risk patients for bladder cancer using urine-based markers. The cost and life-years saved associated with bladder cancer screening were evaluated.
Methods: A Markov model was created to estimate cumulative cancer-related costs and efficacy of screening (vs. no screening) of a high-risk population for bladder cancer using a urine-based tumor marker over a 5-year period. Assumptions were based on literature review of survival and progression rates for patients with bladder cancer and costs associated with different bladder cancer disease states.
Results: Screening for bladder cancer in a population with a 4% incidence of bladder cancer resulted in a gain of 3.0 life years per 1000 subjects at a cost savings of $101,000 for the population, assuming a 50% downstaging in the screened population from muscle-invasive to nonmuscle-invasive disease. One-way sensitivity analyses found that screening is the most cost-effective strategy if cancer incidence is >1.6%, tumor marker costs <$126, marker sensitivity is >26%, marker specificity is >54%, downstaging with screening is >20%, and office cystoscopy costs <$694. Varying costs of cystectomy, transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT), chemotherapy, end-of-life care, costs of metastatic disease, and a computed tomography scan over a wide range did not affect the superiority of screening.
Conclusions: The model found that urine-based markers are cost-effective in a high-risk population. Prospective randomized trials in a completely asymptomatic high-risk cohort are indicated before bladder cancer screening can be recommended.