How can screening colonoscopy be optimized?

Dig Dis. 2015;33(1):19-27. doi: 10.1159/000366033. Epub 2014 Dec 17.


Since the implementation of screening programmes, both the incidence and mortality of colorectal cancer have been decreasing. The choice of the preferred screening tool, however, is divergent and the adherence to screening programmes in most countries is still low. Cancer detection tests such as the guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and the immunohistochemical FOBT (iFOBT) achieve higher acceptance than endoscopy. The sensitivity and specificity of iFOBT are higher than those of gFOBT, but gFOBT is cheaper and easier to perform. Endoscopic screening, which represents cancer prevention tests, has higher sensitivity for premalignant lesions than gFOBT and iFOBT and enables diagnosis and therapy in one single procedure. Since screening colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy are invasive procedures with potentially severe adverse events, the highest possible quality must be provided. High-tech equipment, experience, training, quality control programmes, excellent bowel preparation and low adverse event rates are pivotal. Alternative screening tools such as CT colonography, barium enema CT and multitarget stool DNA tests have not been established as routine screening tools to date.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Colonoscopy* / education
  • Colonoscopy* / standards
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening* / standards
  • Motivation
  • Quality Assurance, Health Care