Objective: To assess uptake of once-only flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) in a community sample to determine whether FS would be viable as a method of population-based screening for colorectal cancer.
Methods: All adults aged 60-64 years registered at three General Practices in North West London, UK (510 men and women) were sent a letter of invitation to attend FS screening carried out by an experienced nurse, followed by a reminder if they did not make contact to confirm or decline the invitation. The primary outcome was attendance at the endoscopy unit for a FS test.
Results: Of the 510 people invited to attend, 280 (55%) underwent FS. Among non-attenders, 91 (18%) were ineligible for screening or did not receive the invitation, 19 (4%) accepted the offer of screening but were unable to attend during the study period, 52 (10%) declined the offer, 41 (8%) did not respond to the invitation, and 27 (5%) accepted the offer of screening but did not attend. Attendance among those eligible to be screened, who had received the invitation, was 67%. People from more socioeconomically deprived neighbourhoods were less likely to attend (odds ratio [OR] = 0.90; confidence interval [CI] = 0.84-0.96; P = 0.003). Women were more likely to attend than men (OR = 1.44; CI = 1.01-2.05; P = 0.041).
Conclusions: Attendance rates in this pilot for nurse-led, population-based FS screening were higher than those reported in other FS studies, and comparable with adherence to fecal occult blood testing (FOBT) in the UK FOBT pilot. Having a female nurse endoscopist may have been responsible for increasing female uptake rates but this warrants confirmation in a larger study.