Background & aims: We conducted a study to estimate population coverage and detection rate (DR) achievable through different strategies of colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.
Methods: A population-based multicenter randomized trial comparing 3 strategies was used: (1) biennial immunologic fecal occult blood test (FIT), (2) "once only" sigmoidoscopy (FS), and (3) "once only" colonoscopy (TC). A random sample of men and women, aged 55 to 64 years, was drawn from general practitioners' (GP) rosters. Eligible subjects, randomized within GP, were mailed a personal invitation. Nonresponders in groups 2 and 3 were invited again at 12 and 24 months. Screenees with "high-risk" distal polyps (villous component >20%, high-grade dysplasia, CRC, size >or=10 mm, >2 adenomas) at FS, or with positive FIT, were referred for TC.
Results: The attendance rate was 32.3% (1965/6075) for FIT, 32.3% (1944/6018) for FS, 26.5% (1597/6021) for TC. FIT detected 2 patients with CRC (0.1%) and 21 with an advanced adenoma (1.1%). The corresponding figures were as follows: 12 (0.6%) and 86 (4.5%) patients, respectively, for FS; 13 (0.8%) and 100 (6.3%) patients, respectively, for TC. To detect 1 advanced neoplasm, it would be necessary to invite 264 people with FIT, 60 with FS, 53 with TC. FS would have detected 27.3% of the proximal advanced neoplasms detected at TC. Assuming the same participation rate at TC as at FS, 48 TCs would be necessary to detect 1 additional advanced neoplasm missed by FS.
Conclusions: When participants are offered 1 screening test, participation is lower in a TC than in an FS program. However, DR of advanced neoplasia is higher with TC.