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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Racial and ethnic colorectal cancer patterns affect the cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in the United States.

  • Author(s): Theuer, CP
  • Wagner, JL
  • Taylor, TH
  • Brewster, WR
  • Tran, D
  • McLaren, CE
  • Anton-Culver, H
  • et al.

BACKGROUND & AIMS:Colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50 is recommended for all Americans considered at "average" risk for the development of colorectal cancer. METHODS:We used 1988-1995 California Cancer Registry data to compare the cost-effectiveness of two 35-year colorectal cancer screening interventions among Asians, blacks, Latinos, and Whites. RESULTS:Average annual age-specific colorectal cancer incidence rates were highest in blacks and lowest in Latinos. Screening beginning at age 50 was most cost-effective in blacks and least cost-effective in Latinos (measured as dollars spent per year of life saved), using annual fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) combined with flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years and using colonoscopy every 10 years. A 35-year screening program beginning in blacks at age 42, whites at age 44, or Asians at age 46 was more cost-effective than screening Latinos beginning at age 50. CONCLUSIONS:Colorectal cancer screening programs beginning at age 50, using either FOBT and flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy in each racial or ethnic group, are within the $40,000-$60,000 per year of life saved upper cost limit considered acceptable for preventive strategies. Screening is most cost-effective in blacks because of high age-specific colorectal cancer incidence rates.

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