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Health Care Manag Sci. 1998 Oct;1(2):103-13.

Use of a mathematical model to evaluate breast cancer screening policy.

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Department of Mathematics, University of Salford, UK.


A model of breast cancer screening was developed, in which the processes of tumour origination and growth, detection of tumours at screening, presentation of women with cancers to their GP, and of survival after diagnosis were modelled parametrically. The model was fitted to data from the North-West of the UK, for 413 women who screened positive, and for 761 women who developed interval cancers. Model validation comprised verification that the final model fitted the data adequately, together with the comparison of model predictions with findings by other workers. The mathematical model was used to assess different screening policies, and to ask "what if" questions. Taking the cost of breast cancer to be the sum of the cost of screening and the cost of PYLL (person years of life lost due to cancer), the optimal screening policy was calculated. The costs of the current policy and of other possible screening policies were found, together with their effects on life lost and on mortality. The tentative conclusion was that if monies can be found to extend the screening programme, for example to carry out one more screen per woman, most benefit would be obtained by reducing the start age of screening by 3 years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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