Cost-effectiveness of artificial intelligence-assisted liquid-based cytology testing for cervical cancer screening in China

Mingwang Shen, Zhuoru Zou, Heling Bao, Christopher K. Fairley, Karen Canfell, Jason J. Ong, Jane Hocking, Eric P.F. Chow, Guihua Zhuang, Linhong Wang, Lei Zhang

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Background: The 2021 World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines for cervical cancer screening recommend human papillomavirus (HPV) DNA or mRNA testing. Artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted liquid-based cytology (LBC) systems also have the potential to facilitate rapid scale-up of cervical cancer screening. We aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of AI-assisted LBC testing, compared with the manual LBC and HPV-DNA testing, for primary cervical cancer screening in China. Methods: We developed a Markov model for a cohort of 100,000 women aged 30 years over a lifetime to simulate the natural history of cervical cancer progression. We evaluated the incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) of 18 screening strategies (a combination of the three screening methods with six screening frequencies) from a healthcare provider's perspective. The willingness-to-pay threshold (US$30,828) was chosen as three times the Chinese per-capita gross domestic product in 2019. Univariate and probabilistic sensitivity analyses were performed to examine the robustness of the results. Findings: Compared with no screening, all 18 screening strategies were cost-effective, with an ICER of $622–24,482 per quality-adjusted life-year (QALY) gained. If HPV testing after scaling up to population level screening costs $10.80 or more, screening once every 5 years using AI-assisted LBC would be the most cost-effective strategy with an ICER of $8790/QALY gained compared with the lower-cost non-dominated strategy on the cost-effectiveness frontier. Its probability of being cost-effective was higher (55.4%) than other strategies. Sensitivity analyses showed that the most cost-effective strategy would become AI-assisted LBC testing once every 3 years if the sensitivity (74.1%) and specificity (95.6%) of this method were both reduced by ≥10%. The most cost-effective strategy would become HPV-DNA testing once every 5 years if the cost of AI-assisted LBC was more expensive than manual LBC or if the HPV-DNA test cost is slightly reduced (from $10.8 to <$9.4). Interpretation: AI-assisted LBC screening once every 5 years could be more cost-effective than manually-read LBC. Using AI-assisted LBC could have comparable cost-effectiveness to HPV DNA screening, but the relative pricing of HPV DNA testing is critical in this result.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100726
Number of pages10
JournalThe Lancet Regional Health - Western Pacific
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • AI-assisted LBC
  • Cervical cancer screening
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • HPV DNA testing
  • Manual LBC

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