Cost of national colorectal screening offset by saving on treatment

A FULLY implemented biennial national bowel cancer screening program would be cost-­effective and reduce colorectal cancer mortality by up to 25%, researchers say.

New modelling of faecal occult blood test (FOBT) screening for Australia shows the cost  would be offset by an expected reduction in cancer treatment costs and require a commitment of less than $50 million in extra government funding.

The researchers said offering screening to the five million adults aged 50–74 would prevent 300–500 deaths annually.

Their modelling, plus analysis of six economic studies on bowel screening, suggested the greatest cost would be colonoscopy, but capacity could be expanded with a “preferred provider” voucher program allowing participants to have the procedure performed in public or private clinics for a negotiated fixed cost.

Cancer Council Australia  chief executive Professor Ian Olver agreed this should be