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Low-Income Women's Cancer Screenings Cost Effective: Report
Date:12/21/2007

have cancer. But, Brawley said, the potential for health-care savings is enormous. He said that women who don't get screened will likely not be diagnosed until they have a much more advanced cancer. "They end up so sick that somebody ends up giving them health care, and, at that point, it's a lot more expensive," he said.

Results of the analysis are published in the Feb. 1, 2008, issue of the journal Cancer.

"It's society's decision about what we want to spend on prevention and screening," said Dr. Julia Smith, director of the Lynne Cohen Breast Cancer Preventive Care Program at New York University Cancer Institute and Bellevue Hospital.

"If you diagnose at stage 0 or an early stage 1, you're talking about surgery, and you may be talking about radiation or hormone therapy," Smith said. "But the big savings come from the fact that early detection may prevent recurrences. Those recurrences cost a fortune and are technically not curable. There are patients that may have a long run, but you're treating the whole time and will have spent many hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The new analysis included information from nine of the 68 National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection programs (NBCCEDP) across the United States. Data was collected from July 2003 through June 2004. The researchers hoped to be able to quantify the program's costs to be able to better allocate limited resources and to assist the state programs in planning and implementing cost-effective activities.

The researchers found that almost 60 percent of the programs' resources was spent on screening and diagnostic follow-up. The remaining 40 percent was spent on non-screening activities, such as public education and outreach, data collection and management, professional education and quality assurance.

The average cost of breast cancer screening alone was $94, according to the analysis. The average cost of screening for cer
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