International Journal of Technology Assessment in Health Care

Research Notes

Cost-Effectiveness of Breast Cancer Screening in Spain

Pedro Plansa1, Laura Casademonta2 and Luis Sallerasa3

a1 Department of Health, Catalunya

a2 Laboratorio Echevarne

a3 Department of Health, Catalunya


In the last several years, the development of an effective breast cancer screening procedure has increased the possibility of the early detection of this cancer. We investigated the cost-effectiveness of a breast cancer screening program to screen 100,000 women 50–64 years of age in Catalonia (Spain). The cost-effectiveness ratio was measured in terms of the cost per cancer detected comparing program costs to the estimated number of cancers detected. We assumed a participation rate, sensitivity, and specificity of 70%, 92%, and 94%, respectively, and that 0.36 breast cancers could be detected per 100 women screened. We estimated a total cost of $2.1 million with $1.4 million for the mammographic stage and $0.7 million for the detection of the true positive mammographic results. The cost per woman screened was $30. We estimated that 252 cases of breast cancer could be detected with the program. The cost-effectiveness ratio obtained in this study was $8,424 per cancer detected. Sensitivity analysis has shown that cost-effectiveness results are sensitive to the variations in the following variables: specificity, cancer detection rate, and screening costs. In planning preventive programs, breast cancer screening should be considered one of the priorities.