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Colorectal cancer screening works
Date:9/27/2013

Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) in European countries is highly effective in reducing mortality from the disease. Some of the resources currently being devoted to breast and prostate screening programmes, where the evidence of effectiveness is much less clear-cut, should be reallocated to the early detection of CRC, the 2013 European Cancer Congress (ECC2013) [1] will hear today (Sunday).

Professor Philippe Autier, Vice President, Population Studies, at the International Prevention Research Institute, Lyon, France, will report on results extracted from data on CRC collected as part of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) project on exposure to screening in men and women aged 50 and over in 11 European countries between 1989 and 2010. Using the World Health Organisation cause of death database, the researchers calculated changes in death rates from CRC in the different countries, and related them to the scope and take-up of CRC screening activities.

Screening involves either a faecal occult blood test (FOBT), which checks a sample of faeces for hidden blood, or endoscopy, where a tiny camera is introduced into the large bowel to look for the polyps that can be a precursor of cancer. Screening activities were either part of national programmes, for example FOBT screening in France and in the UK, FOBT or endoscopy in Germany and some Italian regions, or the result of decisions made by individuals and their doctors. Endoscopic screening is often carried out without a prior FOBT examination.

"We saw quite clearly that the greater proportions of men and women who were screened, the greater the reductions in mortality," Prof Autier will say. "Reduced death rates from CRC were not noticeable in countries where screening was low, even though healthcare services in those countries were similar to those in countries where screening was more widespread."

In Austria, where 61% of all those studied repo
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
ECCO-the European CanCer Organisation
Source:Eurekalert

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