Background: A campaign to increase the awareness of the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC) and encourage self-presentation to a GP was piloted in two regions of England in 2011. Short-term data from the pilot evaluation on campaign cost and changes in GP attendances/referrals, CRC incidence, and CRC screening uptake were available. The objective was to estimate the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a CRC awareness campaign by using a mathematical model which extrapolates short-term outcomes to predict long-term impacts on cancer mortality, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), and costs.
Methods: A mathematical model representing England (aged 30+) for a lifetime horizon was developed. Long-term changes to cancer incidence, cancer stage distribution, cancer mortality, and QALYs were estimated. Costs were estimated incorporating costs associated with delivering the campaign, additional GP attendances, and changes in CRC treatment.
Results: Data from the pilot campaign suggested that the awareness campaign caused a 1-month 10 % increase in presentation rates. Based on this, the model predicted the campaign to cost £5.5 million, prevent 66 CRC deaths and gain 404 QALYs. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio compared to "no campaign" was £13,496 per QALY. Results were sensitive to the magnitude and duration of the increase in presentation rates and to disease stage.
Conclusions: The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a cancer awareness campaign can be estimated based on short-term data. Such predictions will aid policy makers in prioritizing between cancer control strategies. Future cost-effectiveness studies would benefit from campaign evaluations reporting as follows: data completeness, duration of impact, impact on emergency presentations, and comparison with non-intervention regions.