Costs and Health Effects of Breast Cancer Interventions in Epidemiologically Different Regions of Africa, North America, and Asia


Address correspondence and reprint requests to: M. T. Groot, Institute for Medical Technology Assessment, Erasmus Medical Center, P.O. Box 1738, 3000 DR Rotterdam, or e-mail:


Abstract:  We estimated the costs and health effects of treating stage I, II, III, and IV breast cancer individually, of treating all stages, and of introducing an extensive cancer control program (treating all stages plus early stage diagnosis) in three epidemiologically different world regions—Africa, North America, and Asia. We developed a mathematical simulation model of breast cancer using the stage distribution and case fatality rates in the presence and absence of treatment as predictors of survival. Outcome measures were life-years adjusted for disability (DALYs), costs (in 2000 U.S. dollars) of treatment and follow-up, and cost-effectiveness ratios (CERs; in dollars per DALY averted). Sensitivity analyses were performed to determine the robustness of the results. Treating patients with stage I breast cancer resulted in 23.41, 12.25, and 19.25 DALYs averted per patient in Africa, North America, and Asia, respectively. The corresponding average CERs compared with no intervention were $78, $1960, and $62 per DALY averted. The number of DALYs averted per patient decreased with stage; the value was lowest for stage IV treatment (0.18–0.19), with average CERs of $4986 in Africa, $70,380 in North America, and $3510 per DALY averted in Asia. An extensive breast cancer program resulted in 16.14, 12.91, and 12.58 DALYs averted per patient and average CERs of $75, $915, and $75 per DALY averted. Outcomes were most sensitive to case fatality rates for untreated patients, but varying model assumptions did not change the conclusions. These findings suggest that treating stage I disease and introducing an extensive breast cancer program are the most cost-effective breast cancer interventions.