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PLoS Med. 2017 Feb 7;14(2):e1002225. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1002225. eCollection 2017 Feb.

Performance and Cost-Effectiveness of Computed Tomography Lung Cancer Screening Scenarios in a Population-Based Setting: A Microsimulation Modeling Analysis in Ontario, Canada.

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Department of Public Health, Erasmus MC-University Medical Center Rotterdam, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Department of Health Sciences, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.
University of Toronto Dalla Lana School of Public Health, Ontario, Canada.
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Ontario Tobacco Research Unit, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
Population, Public & Indigenous Health, Alberta Health Services, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.



The National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) results indicate that computed tomography (CT) lung cancer screening for current and former smokers with three annual screens can be cost-effective in a trial setting. However, the cost-effectiveness in a population-based setting with >3 screening rounds is uncertain. Therefore, the objective of this study was to estimate the cost-effectiveness of lung cancer screening in a population-based setting in Ontario, Canada, and evaluate the effects of screening eligibility criteria.


This study used microsimulation modeling informed by various data sources, including the Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP), Ontario Cancer Registry, smoking behavior surveys, and the NLST. Persons, born between 1940 and 1969, were examined from a third-party health care payer perspective across a lifetime horizon. Starting in 2015, 576 CT screening scenarios were examined, varying by age to start and end screening, smoking eligibility criteria, and screening interval. Among the examined outcome measures were lung cancer deaths averted, life-years gained, percentage ever screened, costs (in 2015 Canadian dollars), and overdiagnosis. The results of the base-case analysis indicated that annual screening was more cost-effective than biennial screening. Scenarios with eligibility criteria that required as few as 20 pack-years were dominated by scenarios that required higher numbers of accumulated pack-years. In general, scenarios that applied stringent smoking eligibility criteria (i.e., requiring higher levels of accumulated smoking exposure) were more cost-effective than scenarios with less stringent smoking eligibility criteria, with modest differences in life-years gained. Annual screening between ages 55-75 for persons who smoked ≥40 pack-years and who currently smoke or quit ≤10 y ago yielded an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $41,136 Canadian dollars ($33,825 in May 1, 2015, United States dollars) per life-year gained (compared to annual screening between ages 60-75 for persons who smoked ≥40 pack-years and who currently smoke or quit ≤10 y ago), which was considered optimal at a cost-effectiveness threshold of $50,000 Canadian dollars ($41,114 May 1, 2015, US dollars). If 50% lower or higher attributable costs were assumed, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of this scenario was estimated to be $38,240 ($31,444 May 1, 2015, US dollars) or $48,525 ($39,901 May 1, 2015, US dollars), respectively. If 50% lower or higher costs for CT examinations were assumed, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of this scenario was estimated to be $28,630 ($23,542 May 1, 2015, US dollars) or $73,507 ($60,443 May 1, 2015, US dollars), respectively. This scenario would screen 9.56% (499,261 individuals) of the total population (ever- and never-smokers) at least once, which would require 4,788,523 CT examinations, and reduce lung cancer mortality in the total population by 9.05% (preventing 13,108 lung cancer deaths), while 12.53% of screen-detected cancers would be overdiagnosed (4,282 overdiagnosed cases). Sensitivity analyses indicated that the overall results were most sensitive to variations in CT examination costs. Quality of life was not incorporated in the analyses, and assumptions for follow-up procedures were based on data from the NLST, which may not be generalizable to a population-based setting.


Lung cancer screening with stringent smoking eligibility criteria can be cost-effective in a population-based setting.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Conflict of interest statement

I have read the journal's policy and the authors of this manuscript have the following competing interests: HJdK, CMvdA, and KtH are members of the the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET) Lung working group (grant 1U01CA199284-01 from the National Cancer Institute). HJdK is the principal investigator of the Dutch-Belgian Lung Cancer Screening Trial (Nederlands-Leuvens Longkanker Screenings onderzoek; the NELSON trial). CMvdA and KtH are researchers affiliated with the NELSON trial. HJdK, CMvdA, and KtH received a grant from the University of Zurich to assess the cost-effectiveness of computed tomographic lung cancer screening in Switzerland. HJdK took part in a one-day advisory meeting on biomarkers organized by M.D. Anderson/Health Sciences during the 16th World Conference on Lung Cancer. MCT is a Senior Scientist for Cancer Care Ontario and serves as Scientific Lead on their High Risk Cancer Screening Pilot Study and Program Development in a part-time position. MCT's involvement with Cancer Care Ontario funded his research in this study. HJdK and LFP were both involved in the Cancer Care Ontario Health Technology Assessment Study for CT Lung Cancer Screening in Canada, and LFP received funding for this specific to conduct research presented in this study.

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