Researchers from England investigated the effect of fecal occult blood (FOB) screening on mortality from colorectal cancer.
Three large randomized trials have shown that screening for colorectal cancer using FOB tests can reduce the mortality from this disease.
Two national pilot studies have recently been launched in the UK to investigate the feasibility of population screening for colorectal cancer in the National Health Service.
The largest of the trials was conducted in Nottingham. It randomized 152,850 individuals, between the ages of 45 and 74 years, to receive biennial Hemoccult (FOB) test kit (intervention group) or to a control group.
Mortality in the intervention group was compared with the control group.
|27% reduction in mortality among patients accepting fecal occult blood test.
The individuals were followed up through local health records and central flagging (Office for National Statistics).
At a median follow up of 11 years, there was a 13% reduction in colorectal cancer mortality in the intervention group, despite an uptake at first invitation of only approximately 50%.
The team found that the mortality reduction for those accepting screening was 27%.
The reduction in mortality was independent of sex and site of tumor.
There was found to be no significant difference in mortality from causes other than colorectal cancer between the intervention and control groups.
Professor John H. Scholefield, of the University Hospital, Nottingham, England, concluded on behalf of his group, "Although the reduction in colorectal cancer mortality was sustained, further follow up of this population is required to determine whether a significant reduction in the incidence of colorectal cancer will be achieved."