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Gynecol Oncol. 2002 Jan;84(1):7-11.

Monitoring of serum squamous cell carcinoma antigen levels in invasive cervical cancer: is it cost-effective?

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, China.



The aim of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of serial squamous cell carcinoma antigen (SCC) monitoring in the clinical setting.


All patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the cervix and SCC measurement from 1994 to 1999 were reviewed. The cost of the investigations, including blood tests, X rays, and computer tomography; and clinic visits were adjusted to 2001 dollars for all cases over the 6-year study period. The effectiveness measure was the number of cases detected by SCC monitoring before the onset of clinical symptoms or abnormal physical examination findings. Altered clinical management due to early detection was considered successful.


Two thousand eight hundred fifty-one SCC antigen assays were performed from 384 patients. An elevated pretreatment SCC level was associated with poorer cumulative survival over time (P < 0.05). Fifty-five patients had recurrences, with 10 local and 45 distant recurrences. SCC levels were elevated in 47 patients (85%). The median lead time was 7.8 months. The cost of finding 1 recurrence was US$4750. SCC monitoring does not alter clinical management and has no advantage over clinical examination in detecting local recurrence. Most of the recurrent diseases were detected too late for curative treatment. Only 1 patient, in whom the diagnosis could have been made by clinical examination without SCC monitoring, may have potentially benefited from exenteration.


Posttreatment SCC monitoring is not cost-effective in the absence of curative treatment for distant spread of disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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