Background: Recommendations vary regarding the maximum age at which to stop lung cancer screening: 80 years according to the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), 77 years according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and 74 years according to the National Lung Screening Trial (NLST).
Objective: To compare the cost-effectiveness of different stopping ages for lung cancer screening.
Design: By using shared inputs for smoking behavior, costs, and quality of life, 4 independently developed microsimulation models evaluated the health and cost outcomes of annual lung cancer screening with low-dose computed tomography (LDCT).
Data sources: The NLST; Prostate, Lung, Colorectal, and Ovarian Cancer Screening Trial; SEER (Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results) program; Nurses' Health Study and Health Professionals Follow-up Study; and U.S. Smoking History Generator.
Target population: Current, former, and never-smokers aged 45 years from the 1960 U.S. birth cohort.
Time horizon: 45 years.
Perspective: Health care sector.
Intervention: Annual LDCT according to NLST, CMS, and USPSTF criteria.
Outcome measures: Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICERs) with a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100 000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY).
Results of base-case analysis: The 4 models showed that the NLST, CMS, and USPSTF screening strategies were cost-effective, with ICERs averaging $49 200, $68 600, and $96 700 per QALY, respectively. Increasing the age at which to stop screening resulted in a greater reduction in mortality but also led to higher costs and overdiagnosis rates.
Results of sensitivity analysis: Probabilistic sensitivity analysis showed that the NLST and CMS strategies had higher probabilities of being cost-effective (98% and 77%, respectively) than the USPSTF strategy (52%).
Limitation: Scenarios assumed 100% screening adherence, and models extrapolated beyond clinical trial data.
Conclusion: All 3 sets of lung cancer screening criteria represent cost-effective programs. Despite underlying uncertainty, the NLST and CMS screening strategies have high probabilities of being cost-effective.
Primary funding source: CISNET (Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network) Lung Group, National Cancer Institute.