Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of programs for BRCA pathogenic variant carrier cancer risk management
AffiliationSir Peter MacCallum Department of Oncology
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-06-09.
© 2019 Lara Petelin
Background Women who inherit a germline pathogenic variant in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes have a significantly elevated lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Women who are aware of their BRCA carrier status can mitigate their increased risk by undergoing intensive breast cancer screening from a young age for early detection, and risk-reducing surgery for prevention of breast and/or ovarian cancer. The effectiveness of these interventions is dependent on BRCA carriers taking up these risk management strategies at an appropriate time, considering factors such as their age, personal preferences, and life stage. The most effective approach to ensuring carriers adhere to risk management recommendations is unknown. This project evaluates the lifetime health outcomes and cost-effectiveness of long-term clinical management of BRCA carriers in the context of structured clinical programs, using real-world data. Methods This thesis describes the development and outcomes of a discrete-time state-based microsimulation model. The model, named miBRovaCare, simulates the gene-specific natural histories for breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA carriers. Cost-effectiveness and cost-utility analyses were performed to evaluate the lifetime outcomes of different approaches to clinical management of carriers from the perspective of the Australian public healthcare system. The comparator for the base case analysis was the natural history (no cancer risk management). The interventions included: (i) a structured familial cancer service with a multidisciplinary high-risk clinic, and (ii) a formal annual carrier review program. For the intervention arms, BRCA carriers could undergo annual breast imaging, risk-reducing bilateral or contralateral mastectomy, and risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Uptake of and adherence to these strategies (patient behaviour) was based on an analysis of 983 BRCA carriers seen through a clinic in Melbourne, Australia. Additional model inputs were obtained from a local hospital database, the literature, government reports, and expert opinion. Costs and health outcomes were discounted by 5%. Results Long-term management of BRCA carriers through a familial cancer service is likely to be cost-effective, with or without an annual review program. A familial cancer service was the preferred strategy if the willingness-to-pay was at least $29,000 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) for BRCA1 carriers and $57,000 per QALY for BRCA2 carriers. Inclusion of an annual review program for BRCA1 carriers had a 75% probability of being cost-effective at a willingness-to-pay threshold of $50,000 per QALY. For BRCA2 carriers, a familial cancer service with or without an annual review program had only a 37% probability of being cost-effective at a $50,000 per QALY willingness-to-pay threshold. Discounting of health outcomes had, by far, the greatest impact on cost-effectiveness outcomes. Conclusions This thesis describes a novel microsimulation model for optimising clinical management of BRCA carriers. BRCA carriers are likely to benefit from access to structured clinical programs and regular review, due to fewer cancer diagnoses, improved life expectancy and an increase in QALYs. Genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer predisposition syndromes is steadily expanding, and may even be available at a population-based level in the near future. Maximising adherence to evidence-based risk management guidelines along with access to appropriate follow-up services will therefore be increasingly important. The model developed for this thesis can enable faster evaluation of emerging risk management strategies and behavioural interventions, and can be easily adapted to alternative settings and healthcare systems.
KeywordsHealth economics; economic evaluation; cost-effectiveness; cost-utility; simulation; breast cancer; ovarian cancer; BRCA1; BRCA2; BRCA1/2; decision model; cancer risk management; cancer prevention; hereditary cancer; microsimulation
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