Cost effectiveness of mammography screening for Chinese women

Cancer. 2007 Aug 15;110(4):885-95. doi: 10.1002/cncr.22848.


Background: Although the cost effectiveness of screening mammography in most western developed populations has been accepted, it may not apply to Chinese women, who have a much lower breast cancer incidence. The authors estimated the cost effectiveness of biennial mammography in Hong Kong Chinese women to inform evidence-based screening policies.

Methods: For the current study, a state-transition Markov model was developed to simulate mammography screening, breast cancer diagnosis, and treatment in a hypothetical cohort of Chinese women. The benefit of mammography was modeled by assuming a stage shift, in which cancers in screened women were more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier disease stage. The authors compared costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) saved, and life years saved (LYS) for 5 screening strategies.

Results: Biennial screening resulted in a gain in life expectancy ranging from 4.3 days to 9.4 days compared with no screening at an incremental cost of from US $1,166 to US $2,425 per woman. The least costly, nondominated screening option was screening from ages 40 years to 69 years, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of US $61,600 per QALY saved or US $64,400 per LYS compared with no screening. In probabilistic sensitivity analyses, the probability of the ICER being below a threshold of US $50,000 per QALY (LYS) was 15.3% (14.6%).

Conclusions: The current results suggested that mammography for Hong Kong Chinese women currently may not be cost effective based on the arbitrary threshold of US $50,000 per QALY. However, clinicians must remain vigilant and periodically should revisit the question of population screening: Disease rates in China have been increasing because of westernization and socioeconomic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / economics
  • Breast Neoplasms / ethnology
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Mammography / economics*
  • Markov Chains
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Theoretical