Health Information and Quality Authority publishes Health Technology Assessment of a population-based colorectal cancer screening programme
The Health Information and Quality Authority today published the report of the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of a population-based colorectal cancer screening programme in Ireland.
Colorectal cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women in Ireland. On average, 2040 new cases are diagnosed each year with Ireland having the highest mortality rates for colorectal cancer for men in Western Europe.
The purpose of the HTA was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of various options for a population-based colorectal cancer screening programme in Ireland and also to estimate the resource requirements and health outcomes that would result in the first decade following the implementation of such a programme.
Speaking at the launch, Dr Patricia Harrington, Acting Director of Health Technology Assessment with the Health Information and Quality Authority said “The results of the HTA clearly show that lives can be saved through the introduction of this screening programme and the associated higher detection rate of colorectal cancer at an early stage. The recommended programme would be highly cost-effective, when compared with a policy of no screening. Specifically, a programme based on faecal immunochemical testing (FIT) every two years for people aged 55 to 74 years was found to be the optimal strategy and it would provide the greatest health gain, while remaining highly cost-effective.”
Dr Harrington concluded, “The final report, the findings of which have been approved by the Board of the Authority and the Expert Advisory Group convened by the Authority for the HTA process, has been submitted to the Minister for Health and Children and the National Cancer Screening Service Board. The Authority’s advice to the Minister in recommending a screening programme based on FIT every two years would result in a 14.7% reduction in the incidence and 36% reduction in mortality from colorectal cancer.”
A decision regarding the implementation of the programme will be made by the Minister for Health and Children.
For further information please contact:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications and Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480 / 086 2447 623
Notes to the Editor:
- The Health Information and Quality Authority is the independent Authority established under the Health Act 2007 to drive continuous improvement in Ireland’s health and social care services. The Authority has statutory responsibility to carry out national Health Technology Assessments (HTAs) offering advice to the Minister for Health and Children as required.
- HTA is a form of health research that generates information about the clinical and cost-effectiveness of health interventions (technologies), as well as information on their wider impact. The term “technology” includes drugs, medical equipment, diagnostic techniques, surgical procedures, and public health programmes.
- In Ireland, colorectal cancer is the second most frequently diagnosed cancer in both men and women. During the time period 2002 to 2005, an average of 2,040 new cases of colorectal cancer was diagnosed each year. During the same time period, an average of 925 people died from the disease each year. The incidence rates of colorectal cancer for men and women in Ireland are among the highest in Europe, and we have the highest mortality rate for colorectal cancer for men in Western Europe.
- Following a request from the National Cancer Screening Service Board, the Authority agreed in November 2007 to carry out a Health Technology Assessment (HTA) of a population-based colorectal cancer screening programme in Ireland. The Authority commissioned a multi-disciplinary team, led by the National Cancer Registry, to conduct the HTA on its behalf.
- A population-based screening programme involves inviting a defined population who are at average risk for the disease (that is, do not have medical conditions that put them at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer or a strong family history of colorectal cancer) to attend for screening. Such a programme would not only identify individuals with colorectal cancer at an earlier stage, but would also identify people who have pre-cancerous adenomas at risk of developing colorectal cancer.
- Screening for colorectal cancer has been recommended by the Europe Against Cancer programme of the European Union, the International Union Against Cancer and the Preventative Services Task Force in the United States. Screening has been shown to reduce the number of new cases of cancer, through the detection and removal of pre-cancerous tumours (that is, polyps or adenomas). Screening also allows cancers to be detected at an earlier stage. For the individual patient this can mean an improved quality of life and, or a longer duration of life. For the population, this can mean a reduced risk of developing or dying from the disease.
- Several countries have screening programmes in place either at a national or regional level. In the UK full national programmes are expected to be in place by 2010.