To identify the incremental costs and consequences of stratified national breast screening programs (stratified NBSPs) and drivers of relative cost-effectiveness.
A decision-analytic model (discrete event simulation) was conceptualized to represent four stratified NBSPs (risk 1, risk 2, masking [supplemental screening for women with higher breast density], and masking and risk 1) compared with the current UK NBSP and no screening. The model assumed a lifetime horizon, the health service perspective to identify costs (£, 2015), and measured consequences in quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs). Multiple data sources were used: systematic reviews of effectiveness and utility, published studies reporting costs, and cohort studies embedded in existing NBSPs. Model parameter uncertainty was assessed using probabilistic sensitivity analysis and one-way sensitivity analysis.
The base-case analysis, supported by probabilistic sensitivity analysis, suggested that the risk stratified NBSPs (risk 1 and risk-2) were relatively cost-effective when compared with the current UK NBSP, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of £16,689 per QALY and £23,924 per QALY, respectively. Stratified NBSP including masking approaches (supplemental screening for women with higher breast density) was not a cost-effective alternative, with incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of £212,947 per QALY (masking) and £75,254 per QALY (risk 1 and masking). When compared with no screening, all stratified NBSPs could be considered cost-effective. Key drivers of cost-effectiveness were discount rate, natural history model parameters, mammographic sensitivity, and biopsy rates for recalled cases. A key assumption was that the risk model used in the stratification process was perfectly calibrated to the population.
This early model-based cost-effectiveness analysis provides indicative evidence for decision makers to understand the key drivers of costs and QALYs for exemplar stratified NBSP.