Cover: Characteristics of a Cost-Effective Blood Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Characteristics of a Cost-Effective Blood Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Published in: Journal of the National Cancer Institute (2024). DOI: 10.1093/jnci/djae124

Posted on Jun 17, 2024

by Pedro Nascimento de Lima, Rosita van den Puttelaar, Amy B. Knudsen, Anne I. Hahn, Karen M. Kuntz, Jonathan Ozik, Nicholson Collier, Fernando Alarid-Escudero, Ann G. Zauber, John M. Inadomi, et al.


Blood-based biomarker tests can potentially change the landscape of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. We characterize the conditions under which blood test screening would be as effective and cost-effective as annual fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) or decennial colonoscopy.


We used the three CISNET-Colon models to compare scenarios of no screening, annual FIT, decennial colonoscopy, and a blood test meeting CMS coverage criteria (74% CRC sensitivity and 90% specificity). We varied the sensitivity to detect CRC (74%-92%), advanced adenomas (AAs, 10%-50%), screening interval (1-3 years), and test cost ($25-$500). Primary outcomes included quality-adjusted life-years gained (QALYG) from screening and costs for an US average-risk 45-year-old cohort.


Annual FIT yielded 125-163 QALYG per 1,000 at a cost of $3,811-5,384 per person, whereas colonoscopy yielded 132-177 QALYG at a cost of $5,375-7,031 per person. A blood test with 92% CRC sensitivity and 50% AA sensitivity yielded 117-162 QALYG if used every three years and 133-173 QALYG if used every year but would not be cost-effective if priced above $125 per test. If used every three years, a $500 blood test only meeting CMS coverage criteria yielded 83-116 QALYG, at a cost of $8,559-9,413 per person.


Blood tests that only meet CMS coverage requirements should not be recommended to patients who would otherwise undergo screening by colonoscopy or FIT due to lower benefit. Blood tests need higher AA sensitivity (above 40%) and lower costs (below $125) to be cost-effective.

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