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Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2013;14(7):4141-9.

Is mammography for breast cancer screening cost-effective in both Western and asian countries?: results of a systematic review.

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Department of Public Health, Graduate School, Yonsei University, Republic of Korea.



Mammography is considered the gold standard of breast cancer mass screening and many countries have implemented this as an established breast cancer screening strategy. However, although the incidence of breast cancer and racial characteristics are different between Western and Asian countries, many Asian countries adopted mammography for mass screening. Therefore, the objective of this research was to determine whether mammography mass screening is cost-effective for both Western and Asian countries.


A systematic review was performed of 17 national mammography cost-effectiveness data sets. Per capita gross domestic product (GDP), breast cancer incidence rate, and the most optimal cost- effectiveness results [cost per life year saved (LYS)] of a mammography screening strategy for each data set were extracted. The CE/per capita GDP ratio is used to compare the cost-effectiveness of mammography by countries. Non-parametric regression was used to find a cut-off point which indicated the breast cancer incidence rate boundary line determining whether mammography screening is cost-effective or not.


We found that the cost-effective cut-off point of breast cancer incidence rate was 45.04; it exactly divided countries into Western and Asian countries (p<0.0014).


Mammography screening is cost-effective in most of Western countries, but not in Asian countries. The reason for this result may be the issues of incidence rate or racial characteristics, such as dense breast tissue. The results indicate that mammography screening should be adopted prudently in Asian countries and other countries with low incidence rates.

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