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Additional screening among those aged 50 to 64 reduces treatment costs later

-- Beth Gilbert

Monday, October 18, 2010 (Last Updated: 10/19/2010)

MONDAY, Oct. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Increased colorectal cancer screening programs aimed at targeting the pre-Medicare population appear to reduce costs associated with colorectal cancer treatment among patients aged 50 to 64 after they transition to Medicare at age 65, according to a study presented at the annual scientific meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology, held from Oct. 15 to 20 in San Antonio.

Using a population-based microsimulation model, Luuk Goede, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, Netherlands, and colleagues estimated screening and treatment costs associated with increased utilization of three programs, including fecal occult blood test (FOBT), mix of FOBT and colonoscopy, and colonoscopy. The investigators compared increased use of these programs to current screening trends.

The researchers found that total costs attributed to increased screening in the pre-Medicare population increased by 8.3 percent for the FOBT program, 12.6 percent for the program including a mix of FOBT and colonoscopy, and 13.8 percent for the colonoscopy program. Compared to a situation without these screening programs, the data revealed that total costs in the Medicare population were 3.7 percent lower in the FOBT program, 4.3 percent lower in the mixed program, and 4.5 percent lower in the colonoscopy program.

"The increased costs of additional screening in the pre-Medicare population were offset by considerable savings in treatment costs in the Medicare population," the authors write. "The up-front investment in screening individuals aged 50 to 64 was recouped only after they transition to Medicare at age 65. It is therefore important to invest in screening programs targeting the pre-Medicare population."

Abstract No. 64
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Specialties Hematology & Oncology
Family Practice
OBGYN & Women's Health

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