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Keywords:

  • cost;
  • effectiveness;
  • digital mammography;
  • film-screen mammography;
  • screening;
  • breast cancer

Abstract

Objective: A systematic review assessed the relative safety and effectiveness of digital mammography compared with film-screen mammography. This study utilised the evidence from the review to examine the economic value of digital compared with film-screen mammography in Australia.

Methods: A cost-comparison analysis between the two technologies was conducted for the overall population for the purposes of breast cancer screening and diagnosis. In addition, a cost-effectiveness analysis was conducted for the screening subgroups where digital mammography was considered to be more accurate than film-screen mammography.

Results: Digital mammography in a screening setting is $11 more per examination than film-screen mammography, and $36 or $33 more per examination in a diagnostic setting when either digital radiography or computed radiography is used. In both the screening and diagnostic settings, the throughput of the mammography system had the most significant impact on decreasing the incremental cost/examination/year of digital mammography.

Conclusion: Digital mammography is more expensive than film-screen mammography. Whether digital mammography represents good value for money depends on the eventual life-years and quality-adjusted life-years gained from the early cancer diagnosis.

Implications: The evidence generated from this study has informed the allocation of public resources for the screening and diagnosis of breast cancer in Australia.