Colorectal cancer screening programs targeted at the pre-Medicare population (ages 54-64) could pay for themselves in avoided future Medicare expenditures, according to a study released last week at the American College of Gastroenterology’s annual meeting.
Using a computer simulation program, researchers estimated the total lifetime costs for screening and any subsequent treatment of colorectal cancer in people over age 50, using three different kinds of testing (fecal occult blood test, or FOBT; a mix of FOBT and colonoscopy; or colonoscopy alone).
“With rising chemotherapy costs and aging of the population, the Medicare program will face increased costs” in caring for colorectal cancer, said researcher Luuk Goede, MD. His study was aimed at predicting the cost impact of different types of screening in the pre-Medicare population.
The results predicted that total screening costs for the pre-Medicare age group would increase (about 8 percent for FOBT testing; 12.6 percent for the FOBT/colonoscopy program; and almost 14 percent for colonoscopy screening). But if total screening and treatment costs were tracked after the population aged into Medicare, “treatment savings in the older age group fully offset the increased costs in the younger group” for all types of screening, according to Dr. Goede.
What This Means for Patients:
This type of population-based estimate of future costs helps focus public expenditures for screening. But the message for individuals remains the same: Don’t wait until you go on Medicare. Start routine screening for colorectal cancer by age 50 for those with average risk. Legislation in Congress would create a National Colorectal Cancer Screening Program. Urge your Members of Congress to support this lifesaving program.
Source: Medical News Today, Oct 19, 2010