OBJECTIVE: There have been few cost-effectiveness analyses of population-based colorectal cancer screening in Japan, and there is no consensus on the optimal use of total colonoscopy and the fecal immunochemical test for colorectal cancer screening with regard to cost-effectiveness and total colonoscopy workload. The present study aimed to examine the cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening using Japanese data to identify the optimal use of total colonoscopy and fecal immunochemical test. METHODS: We developed a Markov model to assess the cost-effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening offered to an average-risk population aged 40 years or over. The cost, quality-adjusted life-years and number of total colonoscopy procedures required were evaluated for three screening strategies: (i) a fecal immunochemical test-based strategy; (ii) a total colonoscopy-based strategy; (iii) a strategy of adding population-wide total colonoscopy at 50 years to a fecal immunochemical test-based strategy. RESULTS: All three strategies dominated no screening. Among the three, Strategy 1 was dominated by Strategy 3, and the incremental cost per quality-adjusted life-years gained for Strategy 2 against Strategies 1 and 3 were JPY 293 616 and JPY 781 342, respectively. Within the Japanese threshold (JPY 5-6 million per QALY gained), Strategy 2 was the most cost-effective, followed by Strategy 3; however, Strategy 2 required more than double the number of total colonoscopy procedures than the other strategies. CONCLUSIONS: The total colonoscopy-based strategy could be the most cost-effective for population-based colorectal cancer screening in Japan. However, it requires more total colonoscopy procedures than the other strategies. Depending on total colonoscopy capacity, the strategy of adding total colonoscopy for individuals at a specified age to a fecal immunochemical test-based screening may be an optimal solution.
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