Background: The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program (NBCCEDP) was established by the U.S. Congress in 1990. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on ascertaining the NBCCEDP's costs of delivering screening and diagnostic services to medically underserved, low-income women. The objective of this report was to address 3 economic questions: What is the cost per woman served in the program, what is the cost per woman served by program component, and what is the cost per cancer detected through the program?
Methods: The authors developed a questionnaire to systematically collect activity-based costs on screening for breast and cervical cancer from 9 participating programs. The questionnaire was developed based on well established methods of collecting cost data for program evaluation. Data were collected from July 2003 through June 2004.
Results: With in-kind contributions, the cost of screening services to women in 9 programs was estimated at $555 per woman served. Without in-kind contributions, this cost was $519. Among the program components, screening and coalitions/partnerships accounted for the highest and lowest cost per woman served, respectively. The median cost of screening a woman for breast cancer was $94, and the cost per breast cancer detected was $10,566. For cervical cancer, these costs were $56 and $13,340, respectively.
Conclusions: Costs per woman served, screened, and cancers detected are needed for programs to accurately determine the resources required to reach and screen eligible women. With limited program resources, these cost estimates can provide useful information to assist programs in planning and implementing cost-effective activities that could maximize the allocation of program resources.