Objective: The present paper estimates the cost-effectiveness of population-based breast cancer (BC) screening strategies in Brazil for women under 50 years from the perspective of the Brazilian public health system.
Methods: A Markov model, simulating the natural history of female BC sufferers in Brazil, was developed. This model compares the lifetime effects, costs, and cost-effectiveness of seven BC screening strategies in women between 40 to 49 years: (A) usual care; (B) annual screen-film mammography (SFM); (C) SFM every 2 years; (D) annual full-field digital mammography (FFDM); (E) FFDM every 2 years; and (F and G) age-targeted options, with FFDM annually until 49 years and SFM annually (or biannually) from 50 to 69 years.
Results: Adopting SFM every 2 years (Strategy C) was found to be slightly more costly but also more effective in terms of quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), yielding an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of R$ 1,509 per QALY gained. Annual SFM (Strategy B) was the next best option at an additional R$ 13,131 per QALY gained. FFDM annual screening (Strategy E) was dominated by Strategy F, the age-targeted option. For younger women, the age-based strategy had an ICER of R$ 30,520 per QALY gained. In the sensitivity analysis, the ICERs ranged from R$ 15,300 to R$ 257,899 in different regions of the country, depending on BC incidence, population age distribution, and mammography coverage.
Conclusions: SFM every 2 years for all women starting between the ages of 40 and 49 would be a cost-effective strategy. Taking into account regional specificities, age-targeted FFDM is one option to improve the outcomes of BC patients in an emerging country.