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Cancer. 2001 Mar 1;91(5):928-39.

De novo establishment and cost-effectiveness of Papanicolaou cytology screening services in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

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  • 1Kaiser Permanente Medical Center, Redwood City, California, USA.



Cervical carcinoma is the leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the developing world. The absence of cervical screening in Vietnam and other developing countries is due in large part to the perceived expense of implementing Papanicolaou cytology screening services, although, to the authors' knowledge, the cost-effectiveness of establishing such services has never been studied in a developing country.


Using decision analytic methods, the authors assessed cost-effectiveness of Pap screening from a societal perspective in Vietnam, the world's 9th most populous developing country (estimated 1999 population, 79 million). Outcomes measured included life expectancy, cervical carcinoma incidence, cost per woman, and cost-effectiveness.


Total costs to establish a nationwide 5-year interval Pap screening program in Vietnam will average less than $148,400 annually during the 10-year time period assumed necessary to develop the program and may be considerably lower if only high risk geographic areas are targeted. Maintenance costs will average less than $0.092 annually per woman in the target screening population. Assuming 70% program participation, cervical carcinoma incidence will decrease from 26 in 100,000 to 14.8 in 100,000, and cost-effectiveness will be $725 per discounted life-year. Several assumptions used in this analysis constitute biases against the effectiveness of Pap screening, which in reality may be significantly more cost-effective than reported here.


Contrary to widespread belief, Pap screening in developing countries such as Vietnam is extraordinarily inexpensive and appears to be cost-effective. Because prospects are uncertain regarding useful alternatives to the Pap test, the evidence-based argument for establishing conventional Pap screening services in developing countries such as Vietnam is compelling. Population-based conventional Pap screening services have been established de novo in Vietnam and are now operational.

Copyright 2001 American Cancer Society.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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