Faecal occult blood screening for colorectal cancer: is it cost-effective?

Health Econ. 1998 Feb;7(1):21-9. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1099-1050(199802)7:1<21::aid-hec306>3.0.co;2-9.


Recently published evidence from two large-scale clinical trials conducted in England and in Denmark suggests that faecal occult blood screening for colorectal cancer significantly reduces mortality. However, before screening can be advocated as part of national health policy, its cost-effectiveness must be demonstrated. The English screening trial has been the subject of a detailed economic evaluation over the past 10 years In this paper, cost-effectiveness estimates of screening are presented, based on cost and outcome data combined in a mathematical model developed from the trial's clinical findings The estimates of cost per quality-adjusted life-year gained from colorectal cancer screening show the procedure to be of similar cost-effectiveness to breast cancer screening in the short term. Over the longer term, however, the estimates for colorectal cancer screening appear superior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / economics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Econometric
  • Occult Blood*
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Survival Rate