Background: Faecal occult blood testing (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) and colonoscopy are recommended for subjects above 50 years of age for screening for colorectal cancer (CRC).
Aim: To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of FOBT, FS and colonoscopy on the basis of disease prevalence, compliance rate and cost of screening procedures in Asian countries.
Methods: A hypothetical population of 100 000 persons aged 50 undergoes either FOBT annually, FS every 5 years or colonoscopy every 10 years until the age of 80 years. Patients with positive FOBT or polyp in FS are offered colonoscopy. Surveillance colonoscopy is repeated every 3 years. The treatment cost of CRC, including surgery and chemotherapy, was evaluated. A Markov model was used to compare the cost-effectiveness of different screening strategies.
Results: Assuming a compliance rate of 90%, colonoscopy, FS and FOBT can reduce CRC incidence by 54.1%, 37.1% and 29.3% respectively. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) for FOBT (US$6222 per life-year saved) is lower than FS (US$8044 per life-year saved) and colonoscopy (US$7211 per life-year saved). When the compliance rate drops to 50% and 30%, FOBT still has the lowest ICER.
Conclusion: FOBT is cost-effective compared to FS or colonoscopy for CRC screening in average-risk individuals aged from 50 to 80 years.