Background: The aim of this study is to compare the cost-effectiveness of screening with stool DNA testing with that of screening with other tools (annual fecal occult blood testing, flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, and colonoscopy every 10 years) or not screening at all. Methods: We developed a Markov model to evaluate the above screening strategies in the general population 50 to 75 years of age in Taiwan. Sensitivity analyses were performed to assess the influence of various parameters on the cost-effectiveness of screening. A third-party payer perspective was adopted and the cost of $13,000 per life-year saved (which is roughly the per capita GNP of Taiwan in 2003) was chosen as the ceiling ratio for assessing whether the program is cost-effective. Results: Stool DNA testing every three, five, and ten years can reduce colorectal cancer mortality by 22%, 15%, and 9%, respectively. The associated incremental costs were $9,794, $9,335, and $7,717, per life-year saved when compared with no screening. Stool DNA testing strategies were the least cost-effective with the cost per stool DNA test, referral rate with diagnostic colonoscopy, prevalence of large adenoma, and discount rate being the most influential parameters. Conclusion: In countries with a low or intermediate incidence of colorectal cancer, stool DNA testing is less cost-effective than the other currently recommended strategies for population-based screening, particularly targeting at asymptomatic subjects.
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