Objective: Colorectal cancer screening is underutilized. Total colon examination (TCE), such as with colonoscopy, can have a significant effect on the measured compliance with screening, as colonoscopy may be able to be performed as infrequently as once every 10 yr. In a population-based survey we determined the prevalence and validated the self-reporting of TCE and assessed its impact on compliance with screening.
Methods: We interviewed an age- and sex-stratified random sample of 50- to 79-yr-old residents in two communities in southwestern Pennsylvania. Subjects reported ever having had and duration since last use of fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS), rigid proctoscopy, barium enema, and colonoscopy. Self-reports of colorectal testing were validated via retrieval of procedure reports.
Results: Out of 1223 individuals sampled, 496 completed a telephone interview (40.6% overall and 58.3% of eligible contacts). In those without personal or family histories of colorectal cancer or personal histories of polyps (n = 377), 50%, 19.6%, 39.8%, and 17.5% reported ever having had FOBT, FS, barium enema, and colonoscopy, respectively. Thirty-one percent reported having FOBT within the previous year or FS within the previous 5 yr. Including TCE within the previous 5 yr increased the measured compliance to 39.7%. Compliance was significantly greater among subjects with family histories of colorectal cancer (62.9% vs 39.7%, odds ratio = 2.6, 95% CI = 1.3-5.2). Self-reports of recent colonoscopy were verified in 29 of 35 instances (83%).
Conclusion: The prevalence of TCE in this population was significant, and including TCE substantially increased measured compliance with colorectal cancer screening. Self-reported use of colonoscopy was validated as accurate.