Recommendations From the International Colorectal Cancer Screening Network on the Evaluation of the Cost of Screening Programs

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Worldwide, colorectal cancer is the fourth leading cause of death from cancer and the incidence is projected to increase. Many countries are exploring the introduction of organized screening programs, but there is limited information on the resources required and guidance for cost-effective implementation. To facilitate the generating of the economics evidence base for program implementation, we collected and analyzed detailed program cost data from 5 European members of the International Colorectal Cancer Screening Network. The cost per person screened estimates, often used to compare across programs as an overall measure, varied significantly across the programs. In addition, there were substantial differences in the programmatic and clinical cost incurred, even when the same type of screening test was used. Based on these findings, several recommendations are provided to enhance the underlying methodology and validity of the comparative economic assessments. The recommendations include the need for detailed activity-based cost information, the use of a comprehensive set of effectiveness measures to adequately capture differences between programs, and the incorporation of data from multiple programs in cost-effectiveness models to increase generalizability. Economic evaluation of real-world colorectal cancer–screening programs is essential to derive valuable insights to improve program operations and ensure optimal use of available resources.

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