Background and study aims: Mass screening for colorectal cancer in France was initiated in pilot regions on the basis of the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) followed by colonoscopy in positive cases. We report the colonoscopy results in one of the first areas to be screened (Ille et Vilaine).
Patients and methods: Of the total regional population of 908,449, 187,342 of the 213,635 potential screening candidates who were aged 50 - 74 years were invited for FOBT. Of the 51.3% compliant individuals, 2.6% were positive, and of these 90.7% agreed to undergo colonoscopy (n = 2246). The colonoscopy procedure details, findings, and complications were recorded. Subjects were classified according to the most advanced lesion. Positive predictive values of FOBT were calculated according to sex and age.
Results: Colonoscopy was complete in 96.3% of cases. Only 23 adverse events were encountered (1.02%). Colorectal cancer was diagnosed in 237 cases (10.6%, 78.4% of which were clinical stages I - II). The rates of overall adenomas and advanced adenomas were 33.1 % and 21.6 %, respectively. The risk of cancer and advanced adenoma increased significantly in men and in older people.
Conclusion: The results of mass screening with FOBT followed by colonoscopy in this population-based study are very encouraging in terms of compliance, early findings, and complications. Extension of this program to the whole of France is justified.