Benefit of Population-based Screening for Phenotypic Hemochromatosis in Young Men

ArticleinScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology 37(10):1212-9 · November 2002with6 Reads
Impact Factor: 2.36 · DOI: 10.1080/003655202760373443 · Source: PubMed


    Hereditary hemochromatosis (HH) is a common genetic disease leading to accumulation of iron in the body, most notably in the liver. More men than women become clinically ill. The prognosis is excellent if phlebotomy treatment is started before liver cirrhosis develops. Screening has been recommended, but the benefit of population-based screening has never been shown in a randomized clinical trial. In this article, we estimate the benefit of screening young men, using a theoretical model.
    A phenotypic screening scenario was modelled using a decision tree. Gain of quality-adjusted life-years was used as a measure of benefit, and estimated using Markov processes. Data on the accuracy of the screening tests, the prevalence of HH and the risk of liver cirrhosis were mainly derived from a cross-sectional study on the prevalence and morbidity of HH in 30509 men. Data on the excess mortality of cirrhosis were taken from relevant literature. Sensitivity analysis was done for important variables.
    Assuming basal case values for variables, screening a cohort of 1000 men aged 30 years for phenotypic HH would gain about 8 quality-adjusted life-years, compared to awaiting symptomatic disease. Based on actual costs of our cross-sectional study, the screening cost was US$250 per quality-adjusted life-year gained. The prevalence of phenotypic HH, the excess mortality of liver cirrhosis, the quality of life in non-cirrhotic HH patients, and the fractions of patients compliant with treatment were the most important variables in the sensitivity analysis.
    Incorporating screening for phenotypic HH in health survey programmes for young men may be worthwhile.

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