Wide Genetic Testing for Lynch Syndrome Cost Effective

Posted:11/22/10

Widespread genetic testing for Lynch Syndrome appears to be a cost-effective strategy for identifying those at risk for colorectal and endometrial cancer, according to a report in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

“Genetic testing was always assumed to be cost effective for those at high risk based on their family history, but this shows it would be cost effective in a wider population, similar to the cost effectiveness of mammography,” said Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., director for cancer prevention and control at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a lead researcher on the study.

Gruber and colleagues used a mathematical model developed by Archimedes Inc., which showed when risk, based on family history, was assessed starting at ages 25, 30 or 35, followed by genetic testing for those who had risk exceeding 5 percent, colorectal cancers could be reduced by 12.4 percent and endometrial cancers by 8.8 percent. The average cost effectiveness ratio, a measure of expenditure per life year gained by the new strategy would be $26,000, a value favorably below the often-quoted benchmark of $50,000.

The American Association for Cancer Research hosted a teleconference on these findings on Thursday, Nov. 18, 2010, at 3:00 p.m. ET.

AACR President-elect Judy Garber, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, hosted the teleconference.

“This will affect a wide population by changing our thinking about risk for colon cancer. Young individuals will be able to have an assessment of their personal and family history using a computerized model that can help guide their colon cancer risk management for decades, and make it possible to prevent significant numbers of colon and associated cancers, especially in young people, for a very reasonable cost. It is a huge step forward in terms of bringing the benefits of cancer genetics to the broader population using tests that have, in the past, been considered too expensive,” said Garber.
The following panelists participated in this teleconference:

Stephen Gruber, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., director for cancer prevention and control at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a lead researcher on the study

Heather Hampel, M.S., associate director of the division of human genetics and professor in the department of internal medicine at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute

“Genetic testing is the most expensive way to test for Lynch Syndrome, but it is also the most effective. Lynch Syndrome is under-recognized and anything we can do to raise awareness and encourage diagnosis will help save lives,” said Hampel.

Henry Lynch, M.D., professor of medicine and director of the Hereditary Cancer Center at Creighton University School of Medicine in Omaha, Nebraska, who discovered Lynch Syndrome

“I first presented this hereditary concept in 1964, and since then it has become more accepted. However, cost has always been a hurdle. With this new information about cost, we’ll be able to save a lot of lives and as a medical oncologist I feel very good about that,” said Lynch.

Randall W. Burt, M.D., professor of medicine and director of prevention and outreach, Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah, and co-researcher on the paper

Tuan A. Dinh, Ph.D., head of cancer modeling at Archimedes Inc., and developer of the modeling system to calculate anticipated health benefits and cost effectiveness

See full release and link to the teleconference audio here