In randomized trials, fecal occult-blood testing reduces mortality from colorectal cancer.
However, the duration of the benefit is unknown, as are the effects specific to age and sex.
In the Minnesota Colon Cancer Control Study, Dr Aasma Shaukat and colleagues randomly assigned 46,551 participants, 50 to 80 years of age, to usual care (control) or to annual or biennial screening with fecal occult-blood testing.
Screening was performed from 1976 through 1982, and from 1986 through 1992.
The research team used the National Death Index to obtain updated information on the vital status of participants, and determined causes of death through 2008.
Through 30 years of follow-up, 33,020 participants died.
|A total of 732 deaths were attributed to colorectal cancer|
|New England Journal of Medicine|
The research team noted that a total of 732 deaths were attributed to colorectal cancer.
The researchers observed 200 deaths of the 11,072 deaths in the annual-screening group, 237 deaths of the 11,004 in the biennial-screening group, and 295 deaths of the 10,944 in the control group.
Screening reduced colorectal-cancer mortality through 30 years of follow-up.
The researchers observed no reduction in all-cause mortality.
The team noted that the reduction in colorectal-cancer mortality was larger for men than for women in the biennial-screening group.
Dr Shaukat's team concludes, "The effect of screening with fecal occult-blood testing on colorectal-cancer mortality persists after 30 years but does not influence all-cause mortality."
"The sustained reduction in colorectal-cancer mortality supports the effect of polypectomy."