Background: Studies suggest that cervical cancer screening practice in the United States is inefficient. The cost and health implications of nonadherence in the screening process compared with recommended guidelines are uncertain.
Objective: To estimate the benefits, costs, and cost-effectiveness of current cervical cancer screening practice and assess the value of screening improvements.
Design: Model-based cost-effectiveness analysis.
Data Sources: New Mexico HPV Pap Registry; medical literature.
Target Population: Cohort of women eligible for routine screening.
Time Horizon: Lifetime.
Intervention: Current cervical cancer screening practice; improved adherence to guidelines-based screening interval, triage testing, diagnostic referrals, and precancer treatment referrals.
Outcome Measures: Reductions in lifetime cervical cancer risk, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), lifetime costs, incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, and incremental net monetary benefits (INMBs).
Results of Base-Case Analysis: Current screening practice was associated with lower health benefit and was not cost-effective relative to guidelines-based strategies. Improvements in the screening process were associated with higher QALYs and small changes in costs. Perfect adherence to screening every 3 years with cytologic testing and adherence to colposcopy/biopsy referrals were associated with the highest INMBs ($759 and $741, respectively, at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $100 000 per QALY gained); together, the INMB increased to $1645.
Results of Sensitivity Analysis: Current screening practice was inefficient in 100% of simulations. The rank ordering of screening improvements according to INMBs was stable over a range of screening inputs and willingness-to-pay thresholds.
Limitation: The effect of human papillomavirus vaccination was not considered.
Conclusions: The added health benefit of improving adherence to guidelines, especially the 3-year interval for cytologic screening and diagnostic follow-up, may justify additional investments in interventions to improve U.S. cervical cancer screening practice.
Primary Funding Source: U.S. National Cancer Institute.