Lessons learnt from a population-based pilot programme for colorectal cancer screening in Catalonia (Spain)

J Med Screen. 2007;14(2):81-6. doi: 10.1258/096914107781261936.


Study objective: To assess the feasibility of a colorectal cancer population-based screening programme in Catalonia (Spain).

Design and setting: A pilot colorectal cancer screening programme based on faecal occult blood (FOB) test was introduced in February 2000 in Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona, Spain), a city of 239,000 inhabitants.

Participants: All the residents from the selected area, aged 50-69 years old, were invited by mail to participate in the screening programme. Overall, 63,880 persons were invited to the first screening round and 66,534, to the second round. Colonoscopy was the first choice of procedure for the positive FOB test.

Results: The participation rate was 17.2% in the first screening round and 22.3% in the second round. The overall rate of positive FOBT was 3.4% in the first round and 0.8% in the second round. In the first round, the prevalence of screen-detected cancer was 2.1 per 1000 screened people, 7.2 for high-risk adenomas (HRA) and 11.3 for neoplasm (cancer and/or adenoma). The positive predictive value (PPV) was 6.2% for cancer, 21.2% for HRA and 33.3% for advanced neoplasm. In the second round, the prevalence of screen-detected cancer was 0.9 per 1000 people screened, 2.8 per 1000 for HRA and 4.2 per 1000 for neoplasm. The PPV was 10.6% for cancer, 34.1% for HRA and 50.4% for any neoplasm.

Conclusions: Regardless of the moderate participation rate, population-based colorectal cancer screening would be feasible in Catalonia, with good results in terms of prevalence of screen-detected neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Occult Blood*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Spain