Cost-Effectiveness of Alternative Colonoscopy Surveillance Strategies to Mitigate Metachronous Colorectal Cancer Incidence

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The incidence of metachronous colorectal cancer (MCRC) among colorectal cancer (CRC) survivors varies significantly, and the optimal colonoscopy surveillance practice for mitigating MCRC incidence is unknown.


A cost-effectiveness analysis was used to compare the performances of the US Multi-Society Task Force guideline and all clinically reasonable colonoscopy surveillance strategies for 50- to 79-year-old posttreatment CRC patients with a computer simulation model.


The US guideline [(1,3,5)] recommends the first colonoscopy 1 year after treatment, whereas the second and third colonoscopies are to be repeated at 3- and 5-year intervals. Some promising alternative cost-effective strategies were identified. In comparison with the US guideline, under various scenarios for a 20-year period, 1) reducing the surveillance interval of the guideline after the first colonoscopy by 1 year [(1,2,5)] would save up to 78 discounted life-years (LYs) and prevent 23 MCRCs per 1000 patients (incremental cost-effectiveness ratio [ICER] ≤ $23,270/LY), 2) reducing the intervals after the first and second negative colonoscopies by 1 year [(1,2,4)] would save/prevent up to 109 discounted LYs and 36 MCRCs (ICER ≤ $52,155/LY), and 3) reducing the surveillance intervals after the first and second negative colonoscopy by 1 and 2 years [(1,2,3)] would save/prevent up to 141 discounted LYs and 50 MCRCs (ICER ≤ $63,822/LY). These strategies would require up to 1100 additional colonoscopies per 1000 patients. Although the US guideline might not be cost-effective in comparison with a less intensive oncology guideline [(3,3,5); the ICER could be as high as $140,000/LY], the promising strategies would be cost-effective in comparison with such less intensive guidelines unless the cumulative MCRC incidence were very low.


The US guideline might be improved by a slight increase in the surveillance intensity at the expense of moderately increased cost. More research is warranted to explore the benefits/harms of such practices.

This study identifies cost-effective alternative colonoscopy surveillance strategies by evaluating all clinically reasonable surveillance strategies with a computer-simulation model. The results illustrate that slightly increasing the surveillance intensity of the US guideline may significantly improve health outcomes while moderately increasing surveillance costs.

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