Organized colorectal cancer screening in integrated health care systems

Epidemiol Rev. 2011;33:101-10. doi: 10.1093/epirev/mxr007. Epub 2011 Jun 27.


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is an ideal target for early detection and prevention through screening. Noninvasive screening options are the guaiac fecal occult blood test and the fecal immunochemical test. Organized screening offers the promise of uniformly delivering screening to all members of a population who are eligible and due. Organized screening is defined as an explicit policy with defined age categories, method, and interval for screening in a defined target population with a defined implementation and quality assurance structure, and tracking of cancer in the population. The UK National Health Service; the Ontario, Canada Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care; and the US Veteran's Health Administration have used varied organized approaches to deliver guaiac fecal occult blood test screening to their populations. Kaiser Permanente Northern California began CRC screening in the 1960s, initially using flexible sigmoidoscopy. Implementation of organized fecal immunochemical test outreach was associated with improved Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set CRC screening rates between 2005 and 2010 from 37% to 69% and from 41% to 78% in the commercial and Medicare populations, respectively. Organized fecal immunochemical test screening has been associated with an increase in annually detected CRCs, almost entirely because of increased detection of localized-stage cancers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • California / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Delivery of Health Care, Integrated / organization & administration*
  • Health Maintenance Organizations / organization & administration
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / organization & administration*
  • Occult Blood
  • Ontario
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • United States Department of Veterans Affairs