Is Calcitonin screening of all thyroid nodules cost Effective? A recent study by Cheung and associates in the JCEM 93:2173-2180,2008, suggests it is worth the expense. They found it was comparable to screening with TSH,colonoscopy,and mammography. Two groups were studied. One following the guidelines for nodule evaluation by the American thyroid Association ATA, and the other the same ATA except a calcitonin was added to the work up.The results of the added calcitonin to the ATA guidelines wereThe main outcome measures C/E, or dollars per life years saved LYS. $11,793 per LYS for the a calcitonin group. US screening with calcitonin would yield an additional 113,000 life years saved. at a cost increase above current ATA guidelines of 5.3 %. The calcitonin screening is most cost effective in young males with larger nodules, but is still cost effective in screening of the whole thyroid nodule population. The lack of studies on the cost effective nature of screening was the reason the ATA guidelines did not include calcitonin. Now this recent study would suggest it should be added to the nodule work up.
Calcitonin is a marker for Medullary thyroid cancer. It is a rare thyroid cancer that can occur in families. Family screening is done with DNA studies, not calcitonin.