Nonmedical costs of colorectal cancer screening with the fecal occult blood test and colonoscopy

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Aug;6(8):912-917.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2008.03.006. Epub 2008 Jun 5.


Background & aims: The nonmedical costs of colorectal cancer screening are unknown. However, they might influence screening uptake and impact the cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening modalities.

Methods: Consecutive individuals presenting for colorectal cancer screening in the Calgary Health Region were recruited from 4 community laboratory collection sites (fecal occult blood test) and 2 endoscopy units (colonoscopy). Subjects completed a questionnaire including items on time off work for the subject and any accompanying caregiver, travel details, and direct out-of-pocket expenses (bowel prep). Time costs were valued at Government of Canada wage rates. Travel costs included estimated costs for travel by car and actual parking costs and taxi and public transportation fares. Car users' costs were calculated by using a Canadian Automobile Association estimate of motoring costs per kilometer. Costs are in 2006 Canadian dollars.

Results: The final sample included 604 subjects who underwent fecal occult blood test (mean age, 62 years; 51% male; 43% employed) and 723 who underwent colonoscopy (mean age, 56; 49% male; 66% employed). Eighty percent of colonoscopy subjects required an accompanying caregiver, compared with only 5% for fecal occult blood test. The nonmedical costs (subject +/- caregiver) averaged $308 for colonoscopy and $36 for fecal occult blood test.

Conclusions: The nonmedical costs of colorectal cancer screening are substantial, especially for colonoscopy. However, the costs are similar with repeated fecal occult blood tests. These costs might be one factor accounting for low colorectal cancer screening uptake rates. Nonmedical costs should be incorporated into economic analyses of colorectal cancer screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Canada
  • Colonoscopy*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Financing, Personal / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occult Blood*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires