Bowel Screening Detects Early Cancer in Majority of Patients

Proportion of left-sided colon cancers is higher than expected in the first round of screening

FRIDAY, Dec. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The colorectal cancer screening program in England detects mainly early cancer, and has found that left-sided cancers are considerably more common than expected, according to a study published online Dec. 7 in Gut.

Richard F.A. Logan, M.B., from the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the uptake and early outcomes of the first million people screened as part of the Bowel Cancer Screening Program in England, between 2006 and 2009. Individuals, aged 60 to 69 years, who were invited to participate in the first round of screening completed three guaiac fecal occult blood tests every two years.

The investigators found that almost 2.1 million people had been invited to participate by October 2008, with tests returned by about half of those who were invited (49.6 percent of men and 54.4 percent of women). An abnormal test was found for 2.5 percent of men and 1.5 percent of women. A total of 17,518 participants underwent investigation, with the first investigation being a colonoscopy for 98 percent of participants. A total of 11.6 and 43 percent of men, and 7.8 and 29 percent of women investigated had cancer and higher risk adenomas, respectively. The expected figures for left- and right-sided cancers from the U.K. cancer registration were 67 and 24 percent, respectively, whereas the actual figures were 77 and 14 percent, respectively. Seventy one percent of all cancers were "early" stage.

"Although there was the expected improvement in cancer stage at diagnosis, the proportion with left-sided cancers was higher than expected," the authors write.

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