The Long-Term Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Organized versus Opportunistic Screening for Breast Cancer in Austria

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Background In 2014, Austrian health authorities implemented an organized breast cancer screening program. Until then, there has been a long-standing tradition of opportunistic screening. Objectives To evaluate the cost-effectiveness of organized screening compared with opportunistic screening, as well as to identify factors influencing the clinical and economic outcomes. Methods We developed and validated an individual-level state-transition model and assessed the health outcomes and costs of organized and opportunistic screening for 40-year-old asymptomatic women. The base-case analysis compared a scenario involving organized biennial screening with a scenario reflecting opportunistic screening practice for an average-risk woman aged 45 to 69 years. We applied an annual discount rate of 3% and estimated the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio in terms of the cost (2012 euros) per life-year gained (LYG) from a health care perspective. Deterministic and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to assess uncertainty. Results Compared with opportunistic screening, an organized program yielded on average additional 0.0118 undiscounted life-years (i.e., 4.3 days) and cost savings of €41 per woman. In the base-case analysis, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of organized screening was approximately €20,000 per LYG compared with no screening. Assuming a willingness-to-pay threshold of €50,000 per LYG, there was a 70% probability that organized screening would be considered cost-effective. The attendance rate, but not the test accuracy of mammography, was an influential factor for the cost-effectiveness. Conclusions The decision to adopt organized screening is likely an efficient use of limited health care resources in Austria.




Schiller-Fruehwirth, I., Jahn, B., Einzinger, P., Zauner, G., Urach, C., & Siebert, U. (2017). The Long-Term Effectiveness and Cost Effectiveness of Organized versus Opportunistic Screening for Breast Cancer in Austria. Value in Health, 20(8), 1048–1057.

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