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J Health Econ. 2005 Sep;24(5):891-906. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Life expectancy and the value of early detection.

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Department of Health Policy and Management, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 1518 Clifton Road NE, Room 610, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.


This paper presents a model of the benefits and costs of early detection of asymptomatic disease as they vary by age. The benefits of early detection tend toward zero as the risk of death from competing causes increases. Costs per detected case also decline with age, assuming that disease incidence rises with age, but are always strictly positive. On balance, there is always an age limit beyond which the costs associated with early detection outweigh the benefits. Application of the model to prostate cancer screening suggests that early detection above age 70 or so is not cost-effective.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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