Objectives: To estimate the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and resource impact of faecal occult blood testing (FOBT) and flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) screening options for colorectal cancer to inform the Department of Health’s policy on bowel cancer screening in England.
Methods: We developed a state transition model to simulate the life experience of a cohort of individuals without polyps or cancer through to the development of adenomatous polyps and malignant carcinoma and subsequent death in the general population of England. The costs, effects and resource impact of five screening options were evaluated: (a) FOBT for individuals aged 50–69 (biennial screening); (b) FOBT for individuals aged 60–69 (biennial screening); (c) once-only FSIG for individuals aged 55; (d) once-only FSIG for individuals aged 60; and (e) once-only FSIG for individuals aged 60, followed by FOBT for individuals aged 61–70 (biennial screening).
Results: The model suggests that screening using FSIG with or without FOBT may be cost-saving and may produce additional benefits compared with a policy of no screening. The marginal cost-effectiveness of FOBT options compared to a policy of no screening is estimated to be below £3000 per quality adjusted life year gained.
Conclusions: Screening using FOBT and/or FSIG is potentially a cost-effective strategy for the early detection of colorectal cancer. However, the practical feasibility of alternative screening programmes is inevitably limited by current pressures on endoscopy services.
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Published Online First 1 December 2006
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: Ethical approval was not required for this study.
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