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Revista Española de Enfermedades Digestivas

Print version ISSN 1130-0108


CARBALLO, Fernando  and  MUNOZ-NAVAS, Miguel. Prevention or cure in times of crisis: the case of screening for colorectal cancer. Rev. esp. enferm. dig. [online]. 2012, vol.104, n.10, pp.537-545. ISSN 1130-0108.

Colorectal cancer is a serious health problem in which screening is capable of reducing both the mortality and the incidence of the disorder. Colonoscopy, the mainstay of this type of screening, allows to establish an early diagnosis and also to eliminate malignant precursor lesions. The screening test which is performed in Spanish programs is the determination of fecal occult blood using the immunochemical method which gives around 70% of positive values for colonoscopy for any type of neoplasia. As a result, in 2009 the National Health System set as an objective that these programs cover 50% of the population by 2015. It is well known that colon screening is highly cost effective with a ratio of around 2500€ per QALY, much lower than ratios of other programs. Only the direct costs of colon and rectal cancer in Spain can be estimated at more than one thousand million euros per year. Early diagnosis and the cancers avoided thanks to screening can reduce these costs by 40%. The impact that the introduction of this screening has on health services can be lessened if the indications for colonoscopy are followed adequately. In conclusion, there is no justification for not acting to prevent CRC and this is especially so in times of crisis as there is no better social cost invested than that which saves suffering, deaths and even money.

Keywords : Prevention of colorectal cancer; Cost effectiveness.

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