INTRODUCTION: Colonoscopy and guaiac fecal occult blood tests and fecal immunochemical tests (FOBT/FIT) are the most common colorectal cancer screening methods in the United States. However, information is limited on the program resources required over time to use these tests.
METHODS: We collected cost data from 29 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) grantees by using a standardized data collection instrument for 5 program years (2009-2014). We created a panel data set with 124 records and assessed differences by screening test used.
RESULTS: Forty-four percent of all programs (N = 124) offered colonoscopy (55 of 124), 32% (39 of 124) offered FOBT/FIT, and 24% (30 of 124) offered both. Overall, total cost per person was higher in program year 1 ($3,962), the beginning of CRCCP than in subsequent program years ($1,714). The cost per person was $3,153 for programs using colonoscopy and $1,291 for those using FOBT/FIT with diagnostic colonoscopy. The average clinical cost per person was $1,369 for colonoscopy and $280 for FOBT/FIT during the program (these do not reflect cost of repeated FOBT/FIT screens). Programs serving a large number of people had lower per-person costs than those serving a small volume, probably because of fixed costs related to nonclinical expenses.
CONCLUSION: Colorectal cancer screening programs incur costs in addition to the clinical cost of the screening procedures to support planning and management, contracting with providers, and tracking patients. Because programs can achieve potential economies of scale, partnerships among smaller programs for screening delivery could decrease overall costs.