Colorectal cancer screening programme by faecal occult blood test in Tuscany: first round results

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Screening with faecal occult blood test (FOBT) has been shown to be effective in reducing mortality from colorectal cancer. Tuscany was the first region in Italy in which a screening programme for colorectal cancer by FOBT was initiated region-wide. The aim of the paper was to describe organizational aspects, a quality control model and the results of this experience. From June 2000 to December 2001, 192 583 subjects aged 50–70 were invited to undergo a 1-day immunochemical test without any dietary restriction. A total of 78 505 subjects (41%) performed the screening test, of whom 4537 responders had a positive test result (5.8%). Among them, 1122 refused any form of assessment or underwent a colonoscopy outside the screening referral centres, with an overall assessment compliance of 75.3%. Malignancies were found in 193 patients and at least a high-risk adenomatous polyp in 692 patients. In about a quarter of the positive subjects who underwent assessment, cancer or high-risk adenoma was detected. In conclusion, data from this experience supported the feasibility of biennial colorectal screening programme by FOBT, particularly regarding invitation compliance and positivity rate. Further efforts are necessary to implement screening extension and to improve data collection.

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