Screening for colorectal cancer in Italy: 2007 survey

Epidemiol Prev. 2009 May-Jun;33(3 Suppl 2):57-74.


We present the main results from the fourth survey of the Italian screening programmes for colorectal cancer carried out by the National Centre for Screening Monitoring (Osservatorio Nazionale Screeninng, ONS) on behalf of the Ministry of Health. During 2007, fi ve new programmes were activated, but three other programmes were stopped, including the regional programme of Basilicata, and by the end of the year 46.6% of Italians aged 50-69 years were residing in areas covered by organised screening programmes (theoretical extension). Seven regions had their whole population covered. In the South of Italy and Islands only one new programme was activated in 2007, while two others were stopped, with a decline of theoretical extension from 10% to 7%. The majority of programmes employ the faecal occult blood test (FOBT), while some have adopted flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) once in a lifetime, or a combination of both. Overall, about 2,600,000 subjects were invited to undergo FOBT, 79.1% of those to be invited within the year. The adjusted attendance rate was 46.3% and approximately 1,131,900 subjects were screened. Large differences in the attendance rate were observed among Regions, with 10% of programmes reporting values lower than 33%. Positivity rate of FOBT programmes was 5.6% at first and 4% at repeat screening. The average attendance rate for total colonoscopy (TC) was 78.7% and in two Regions it was lower than 60%. Completion rate of TC was 91.6%. Among the 914,029 subjects attending screening for the first time, the detection rate (DR) per 1,000 screened subjects was 2.7 for invasive cancer and 12.2 for advanced adenomas (AA, adenomas with a diameter >/=1 cm, with villous/tubulovillous type or with high-grade dysplasia). As expected, the corresponding figures at repeat screening were lower. The DR of cancer and adenomas increased with age and was higher among males; 25% of screen-detected cancers were in TNM stage III+. Many programmes reported some difficulties in guaranteeing TC in the appropriate time frame to SOF+ subjects: in 23.9% of cases the waiting time was longer than two months. Seven programmes employed FS as the screening test: 66.5% of the target population (about 50,000 subjects) were invited and 8,678 subjects were screened, with an attendance rate of 27.7%. Overall, 88% of FS were classified as complete. Overall TC referral rate was 11.1% and the DR per 1,000 screened subjects was 4.4 and 58.4 for invasive cancer and AA, respectively.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adenoma / diagnosis*
  • Adenoma / epidemiology
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Carcinoma / epidemiology
  • Colonoscopy / adverse effects
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology