, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 181-192
Date: 03 Apr 2013

Cost Effectiveness of Fecal DNA Screening for Colorectal Cancer: A Systematic Review and Quality Appraisal of the Literature

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Abstract

Background

Fecal DNA (fDNA) testing is a noninvasive potential alternative to current colorectal cancer screening tests.

Objective

We conducted a systematic review and quality assessment of studies of cost-effectiveness of fDNA as a colorectal cancer screening tool (compared with no screening and other screening modalities), and identified key variables that impinged on cost-effectiveness.

Data sources

We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and the Centre for Reviews and Dissemination for cost-effectiveness studies of fDNA-based screening, published in English by September 2011.

Study selection

Studies that undertook an economic evaluation of fDNA, using either a cost-effectiveness or cost-utility analysis, compared with other relevant screening modalities and/or no screening were included. Additional inclusion criteria related to the presentation of data pertaining to model variables including time horizon, costs, fDNA performance characteristics, screening uptake, and comparators. A total of 369 articles were initially identified for review. After removing duplicates and applying inclusion and exclusion criteria, seven articles were included in the final review.

Study appraisal

Data was abstracted on key descriptor variables including screening scenarios, time horizon, costs, test performance characteristics, screening uptake, comparators, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. Quality assessment was undertaken using a standard checklist for economic evaluations. Studies cited by cost-effectiveness articles as the source of data on fDNA test performance characteristics were also reviewed.

Results

Seven cost-effectiveness studies were included, from the USA (4), Canada (1), Israel (1), and Taiwan (1). Markov models (5), a partially observable Markov decision process model (1) and MISCAN and SimCRC (1) microsimulation models were used. All studies took a third-party payer perspective and one included, in addition, a societal perspective. Comparator screening tests, screening intervals, and specific fDNA tests varied between studies. fDNA sensitivity and specificity parameters were derived from 12 research studies and one meta-analysis. Outcomes assessed were life-years gained and quality-adjusted life-years gained. fDNA was cost-effective when compared with no screening in six studies. Compared with other screening modalities, fDNA was not considered cost-effective in any of the base-case analyses: in five studies it was dominated by all alternatives considered. Sensitivity analyses identified cost, compliance, and test parameters as key influential parameters. In general, poor presentation of “study design” and “data collection” details lowered the quality of included articles.

Limitations

Although the literature searches were designed for high sensitivity, the possibility cannot be excluded that some eligible studies may have been missed. Reports (such as Health Technology Assessments produced by government agencies) and other forms of grey literature were excluded because they are difficult to identify systematically and/or may not report methods and results in sufficient detail for assessment.

Conclusion

On the basis of the available (albeit limited) evidence, while fDNA is cost-effective when compared with no screening, it is currently dominated by most of the other available screening options. Cost and test performance appear to be the main influences on cost-effectiveness.