Modeling and optimization in early detection programs with a single exam

G. Parmigiani, S. Skates, M. Zelen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The choice of timing of screening examinations is an important element in determining the efficacy of strategies for the early detection of occult disease. In this article, we describe a flexible decision-making framework for the design of early detection programs, and we investigate the choice of timing when each individual in the screening program is examined only once. We focus on the theoretical relation between the optimal examination time and the distributions of sojourn times in health-related states. Specifically, we derive closed-form solutions of the optimal age using two specifications of utility functions, discuss the effects of natural history and utility specifications on the optimal solution, and present an application to early detection of colorectal cancer by once-only sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-36
Number of pages7
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Chronic disease
  • Colorectal cancer screening
  • Competing risks
  • Decision analysis
  • Overdiagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Statistics and Probability


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