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J Natl Cancer Inst. 2005 Jun 15;97(12):888-95.

Cost-effectiveness of human papillomavirus DNA testing in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, and Italy.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.



European countries with established cytology-based screening programs for cervical cancer will soon face decisions about whether to incorporate human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA testing and what strategies will be most cost-effective. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of incorporating HPV DNA testing into existing cervical cancer screening programs in the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, France, and Italy.


We created a computer-based model of the natural history of cervical carcinogenesis for each using country-specific data on cervical cancer risk and compared each country's current screening policy with two new strategies: 1) cytology throughout a woman's lifetime, using HPV DNA testing as a triage strategy for equivocal cytology results ("HPV triage"), as well as 2) cytology until age 30 years and HPV DNA testing in combination with cytology in women more than 30 years of age ("combination testing"). Outcomes included reduction in lifetime cervical cancer risk, increase in life expectancy, lifetime costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios, expressed as cost per year of life saved. We explored alternative protocols and conducted sensitivity analysis on key parameters of the model over a relevant range of values to identify the most cost-effective options for each country.


Both HPV DNA testing strategies, HPV triage and combination testing, were more effective than each country's status quo screening policy. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios for HPV triage were less than $13,000 per year of life saved, whereas those for combination testing ranged from $9800 to $75,900 per year of life saved, depending on screening interval. We identified options that would be very cost-effective (i.e., cost-effectiveness ratio less than the gross domestic product per capita) in each of the four countries.


HPV DNA testing has the potential to improve health benefits at a reasonable cost compared with current screening policies in four European countries.

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