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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2005 Jul 15;22(2):135-46.

The cost-effectiveness of biomarkers for predicting the development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

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University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.



The recommended surveillance strategy for oesophageal adenocarcinoma may prevent as few as 50% of cancer deaths. Tissue biomarkers have been proposed to identify high-risk patients.


To determine performance characteristics of an ideal biomarker, or panel of biomarkers, that would make its use more cost-effective than the current surveillance strategy.


We created a Markov model using data from published literature, and performed a cost-utility analysis. The population consisted of 50-year-old Caucasian men with gastro-oesophageal reflux, who were monitored until age 80. We examined strategies of observation only, current practice (dysplasia-guided surveillance), surveillance every 3 months for patients with a positive biomarker (biomarker-guided surveillance), and oesophagectomy immediately for a positive biomarker (biomarker-guided oesophagectomy). The primary outcome was the threshold cost and performance characteristics needed for a biomarker to be more cost-effective than current practice.


Regardless of the cost, the biomarker needs to be at least 95% specific for biomarker-guided oesophagectomy to be cost-effective. For biomarker-guided surveillance to be cost-effective, a $100 biomarker could be 80% sensitive and specific.


Biomarkers predicting the development of oesophageal adenocarcinoma would need to be fairly accurate and inexpensive to be cost-effective. These results should guide the development of biomarkers for oesophageal adenocarcinoma.

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