Systematic reviews with economic components are important decision tools for stakeholders seeking to evaluate technologies, such as breast cancer screening (BCS) programs. This overview of systematic reviews explores the determinants of the cost-effectiveness of BCS and assesses the quality of secondary evidence. The search identified 30 systematic reviews that reported on the determinants of the cost-effectiveness of BCS, including the costs of breast cancer and BCS. While the quality of the reviews varied widely, only four out of 30 papers were considered to be of a high quality. We did not identify publication bias in the original evidence on the cost-effectiveness of mammography screening; however, we highlight a need for improved clarity in both reporting and data verification. The reviews consisted mainly of studies from high-income countries. Breast cancer costs varied widely among the studies. Factors leading to higher costs included: time (diagnosis and last months before death), later stage or metastases, recurrence of the disease, age below 64 years and type of follow-up (more intensive or more specialized). Overall, screening with mammography was considered cost-effective in the age range 50-69 years in Western European and Northern American countries but not for older or younger women. Its cost-effectiveness was questionable for low-income settings and Asia. Mammography screening was more cost-effective with biennial screening compared to annual screening and single reading using computer-aided detection vs double reading. No information on the cost-effectiveness of ultrasonography was found, and there is much uncertainty on the cost-effectiveness of CBE because of methodological limitations.

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Cancer Medicine
Erasmus School of Health Policy & Management (ESHPM)

Mandrik, O., Ekwunife, O., Meheus, F., Severens, H., Lhachimi, S., Uyl-de Groot, C., & Murillo, R. (2019). Systematic reviews as a “lens of evidence”: Determinants of cost-effectiveness of breast cancer screening. Cancer Medicine (Vol. 8, pp. 7846–7858). doi:10.1002/cam4.2498