Issue: 2011 > March > review

Strategies in screening for colon carcinoma

T.R. de Wijkerslooth, P.M. Bossuyt, E. Dekker


Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer in
Europe and meets the criteria for population screening.
Population screening should lead to a reduction in CRC-related mortality and incidence. Several options are available for CRC screening, which can be itemised as stool-based tests and structural exams. Stool-based tests include guaiac and immunochemical faecal occult
blood tests and DNA -marker tests. Structural exams
comprise endoscopic techniques (flexible sigmoidoscopy,
colonoscopy and capsule endoscopy) and radiological exams (double contrast barium enema, CT colonography and MR colonography). Each test has its own test performance characteristics and acceptability profile, which affect the participation and effectiveness of the associated screening programmes. Faecal occult blood tests (FOBT ) and flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) are the only methods with a demonstrated mortality reduction during a ten-year period (FOBT 16% and FS
31%) while flexible sigmoidoscopy is the only screening
test with a demonstrated reduction in CRC incidence
(23%). It is likely that other screening techniques such as colonoscopy and CT colonography will also be effective in the reduction of CRC-related mortality. DNA -marker tests, capsule endoscopy and MR colonography are possible options for the future.