Real-world cost-effectiveness of stool-based colorectal cancer screening in a Medicare population

Deborah A. Fisher, Jordan J. Karlitz, Sushanth Jeyakumar, Nathaniel Smith, Paul Limburg, David Lieberman, A. Mark Fendrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: Multiple screening strategies are guideline-endorsed for average-risk colorectal cancer (CRC). The impact of real-world adherence rates on the cost-effectiveness of non-invasive stool-based CRC screening strategies remains undefined. Methods: This cost-effectiveness analysis from the perspective of Medicare as a primary payer used the Colorectal Cancer and Adenoma Incidence and Mortality Microsimulation Model (CRC–AIM) to estimate cost and clinical outcomes for triennial multi-target stool DNA (mt-sDNA), annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and annual fecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening strategies in a simulated cohort of US adults aged 65 years, who were assumed to either be previously unscreened or initiating screening upon entry to Medicare. Reported real-world adherence rates for initial stool-based screening and colonoscopy follow up (after a positive stool test result) were defined as 71.1% and 73.0% for mt-sDNA, 42.6% and 47.0% for FIT, and 33.4% and 47.0% for FOBT, respectively. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio using quality-adjusted life years (QALY) was defined as the primary outcome of interest; other cost and clinical outcomes were also reported in secondary analyses. Multiple sensitivity and scenario analyses were conducted. Results: When reported real-world adherence rates were included only for initial stool-based screening, mt-sDNA was cost-effective versus FIT ($62,814/QALY) and FOBT ($39,171/QALY); mt-sDNA also yielded improved clinical outcomes. When reported real-world adherence rates were included for both initial stool-based screening and follow-up colonoscopy (when indicated), mt-sDNA was increasingly cost-effective compared to FIT and FOBT ($31,725/QALY and $28,465/QALY, respectively), with further improved clinical outcomes. Limitations: Results are based on real-world cross-sectional adherence rates and may vary in the context of other types of settings. Only guideline-recommended stool-based strategies were considered in this analysis. Conclusion: Comparisons of the effectiveness and benefits of specific CRC screening strategies should include both test-specific performance characteristics and real-world adherence to screening tests and, when indicated, follow-up colonoscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)654-664
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Medical Economics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • colorectal cancer screening
  • colorectal neoplasms
  • cost-effectiveness analysis
  • early detection of cancer
  • patient adherence
  • simulation model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy


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