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A methodological framework for the cost-effectiveness evaluation of diagnostic tests for mass screening is presented. The decision rule is based on disease incidence, probabilities of test error, the cost of the test and of treatment for found cases, and the economic value (expected lifetime earnings or equivalent) of additional length or quality of life for those cured of the disease. The decision rule is applied to the Pap test for cervical cancer, with results showing that as a one-time screening device the test is cost-effective from society's standpoint. Extensions of the method would permit estimation of the disease incidence at which a given test or treatment would be cost-effective; would permit estimation of the breakeven price of test and treatment with given disease incidence; and would allow determination of optimal testing frequency.