An international review of the main cost-effectiveness drivers of virtual colonography versus conventional colonoscopy for colorectal cancer screening: is the tide changing due to adherence?

Eur J Radiol. 2013 Nov;82(11):e629-36. doi: 10.1016/j.ejrad.2013.07.019. Epub 2013 Aug 12.


Objectives: The majority of recent cost-effectiveness reviews concluded that computerised tomographic colonography (CTC) is not a cost-effective colorectal cancer (CRC) screening strategy yet. The objective of this review is to examine cost-effectiveness of CTC versus optical colonoscopy (COL) for CRC screening and identify the main drivers influencing cost-effectiveness due to the emergence of new research.

Methods: A systematic review was conducted for cost-effectiveness studies comparing CTC and COL as a screening tool and providing outcomes in life-years saved, published between January 2006 and November 2012.

Results: Nine studies were included in the review. There was considerable heterogeneity in modelling complexity and methodology. Different model assumptions and inputs had large effects on resulting cost-effectiveness of CTC and COL. CTC was found to be dominant or cost-effective in three studies, assuming the most favourable scenario. COL was found to be not cost effective in one study.

Conclusions: CTC has the potential to be a cost-effective CRC screening strategy when compared to COL. The most important assumptions that influenced the cost-effectiveness of CTC and COL were related to CTC threshold-based reporting of polyps, CTC cost, CTC sensitivity for large polyps, natural history of adenoma transition to cancer, AAA parameters and importantly, adherence. There is a strong need for a differential consideration of patient adherence and compliance to CTC and COL. Recent research shows that laxative-free CTC screening has the potential to become a good alternative screening method for CRC as it can improve patient uptake of screening.

Keywords: Colonoscopy; Colorectal cancer; Computerised tomographic colonography; Cost-effectiveness; Economics; Modelling; Patient adherence; Screening; Simulation.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonography, Computed Tomographic / economics*
  • Colonography, Computed Tomographic / statistics & numerical data
  • Colonoscopy / economics*
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / economics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Cost of Illness*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Early Detection of Cancer / economics*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Costs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Prevalence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sensitivity and Specificity