Cost effectiveness of the addition of a comprehensive CT scan to the abdomen and pelvis for the detection of cancer after unprovoked venous thromboembolism Journal Articles uri icon

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  • IMPORTANCE: Unprovoked venous thromboembolism (VTE) can be the first manifestation of cancer. It is unclear if extensive screening for occult cancer including a comprehensive computed tomography (CT) scan of the abdomen/pelvis is cost-effective in this patient population. OBJECTIVE: To assess the health care related costs, number of missed cancer cases and health related utility values of a limited screening strategy with and without the addition of a comprehensive CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis and to identify to what extent testing should be done in these circumstances to allow early detection of occult cancers. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: Cost effectiveness analysis using data that was collected alongside the SOME randomized controlled trial which compared an extensive occult cancer screening including a CT of the abdomen/pelvis to a more limited screening strategy in patients with a first unprovoked VTE, was used for the current analyses. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Analyses were conducted with a one-year time horizon from a Canadian health care perspective. Primary analysis was based on complete cases, with sensitivity analysis using appropriate multiple imputation methods to account for missing data. RESULTS: Data from a total of 854 patients with a first unprovoked VTE were included in these analyses. The addition of a comprehensive CT scan was associated with higher costs ($551 CDN) with no improvement in utility values or number of missed cancers. Results were consistent when adopting multiple imputation methods. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: The addition of a comprehensive CT scan of the abdomen/pelvis for the screening of occult cancer in patients with unprovoked VTE is not cost effective, as it is both more costly and not more effective in detecting occult cancer.


  • Coyle, Kathryn
  • Carrier, Marc
  • Lazo-Langner, Alejandro
  • Shivakumar, Sudeep
  • Zarychanski, Ryan
  • Tagalakis, Vicky
  • Solymoss, Susan
  • Routhier, Nathalie
  • Douketis, James Demetrios
  • Coyle, Douglas

publication date

  • March 2017