Although the cost effectiveness of screening mammography in most western developed populations has been accepted, it may not apply to Chinese women, who have a much lower breast cancer incidence. The authors estimated the cost effectiveness of biennial mammography in Hong Kong Chinese women to inform evidence-based screening policies.
For the current study, a state-transition Markov model was developed to simulate mammography screening, breast cancer diagnosis, and treatment in a hypothetical cohort of Chinese women. The benefit of mammography was modeled by assuming a stage shift, in which cancers in screened women were more likely to be diagnosed at an earlier disease stage. The authors compared costs, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) saved, and life years saved (LYS) for 5 screening strategies.
Biennial screening resulted in a gain in life expectancy ranging from 4.3 days to 9.4 days compared with no screening at an incremental cost of from US$1166 to US$2425 per woman. The least costly, nondominated screening option was screening from ages 40 years to 69 years, with an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of US$61,600 per QALY saved or US$64,400 per LYS compared with no screening. In probabilistic sensitivity analyses, the probability of the ICER being below a threshold of US$50,000 per QALY (LYS) was 15.3% (14.6%).
The current results suggested that mammography for Hong Kong Chinese women currently may not be cost effective based on the arbitrary threshold of US$50,000 per QALY. However, clinicians must remain vigilant and periodically should revisit the question of population screening: Disease rates in China have been increasing because of westernization and socioeconomic development. Cancer 2007. © 2007 American Cancer Society.