Cost Effectiveness of Shortening Screening Interval or Extending Age Range of NHS Breast Screening Programme

Computer Simulation Study

Published in: BMJ, British Medical Journal, v. 317, no. 7155, Aug. 8, 1998, p. 376-379

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 1997

by Rob Boer, Harry de Koning, Anthony Threlfall, Peter Warmerdam, Andrew Street, E. H. I. Friedman, Ciaran Woodman

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OBJECTIVE: To compare the cost effectiveness of two possible modifications to the current UK screening programme: shortening the screening interval from three to two years and extending the age of invitation to a final screen from 64 to 69. DESIGN: Computer simulation model which first simulates life histories for women in the absence of a screening programme for breast cancer and then assesses how these life histories would be changed by introducing different screening policies. The model was informed by screening and cost data from the NHS breast screening programme. SETTING: North West region of England. Main outcome measures: Numbers of deaths prevented, life years gained, and costs. RSEULTS: Compared with the current breast screening programme both modifications would increase the number of deaths prevented and the number of life years saved. The current screening policy costs 2522 per life year gained; extending the age range of the programme would cost 2612 and shortening the interval 2709 per life year gained. The marginal cost per life year gained of extending the age range of the screening programme is 2990 and of shortening the screening interval is 3545. CONCLUSIONS: If the budget for the NHS breast screening programme were to allow for two more invitations per woman, substantial mortality reductions would follow from extending the age range screened or reducing the screening interval. The difference between the two policies is so small that either could be chosen.

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