Aim: To assess the cost-effectiveness of two populationbased hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) screening programs, two-stage biomarker-ultrasound method and mass screening using abdominal ultrasonography (AUS). Methods: In this study, we applied a Markov decision model with a societal perspective and a lifetime horizon for the general population-based cohorts in an area with high HCC incidence, such as Taiwan. The accuracy of biomarkers and ultrasonography was estimated from published meta-analyses. The costs of surveillance, diagnosis, and treatment were based on a combination of published literature, Medicare payments, and medical expenditure at the National Taiwan University Hospital. The main outcome measure was cost per lifeyear gained with a 3% annual discount rate. Results: The results show that the mass screening using AUS was associated with an incremental costeffectiveness ratio of USD39825 per life-year gained, whereas two-stage screening was associated with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of USD49733 per life-year gained, as compared with no screening. Screening programs with an initial screening age of 50 years old and biennial screening interval were the most cost-effective. These findings were sensitive to the costs of screening tools and the specificity of biomarker screening. Conclusion: Mass screening using AUS is more cost effective than two-stage biomarker-ultrasound screening. The most optimal strategy is an initial screening age at 50 years old with a 2-year inter-screening interval.
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