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The role of CT colonography (CTC) as a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening test is uncertain. The aim of our trial was to compare participation and detection rate (DR) with sigmoidoscopy (flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS)) and CTC in a screening setting.We conducted two randomised clinical trials (RCTs). (1) Participation RCT: individuals, aged 58 years, living in Turin (Italy), were randomly assigned to be invited to FS or CTC screening; (2) detection RCT: residents in northern Italy, aged 58–60, giving their consent to recruitment, were randomly allocated to CTC or FS. Polyps ≥6 mm at CTC, or ‘high-risk’ distal lesions at FS, were referred for colonoscopy (TC).Participation rate (proportion of invitees examined); DR of advanced adenomas or CRC (advanced neoplasia (AN)).Participation was 30.4% (298/980) for CTC and 27.4% (267/976) for FS (relative risk (RR) 1.1; 95% CI 0.98 to 1.29). Among men, participation was higher with CTC than with FS (34.1% vs 26.5%, p=0.011). In the detection RCT, 2673 subjects had FS and 2595 had CTC: the AN DR was 4.8% (127/2673, including 9 CRCs) with FS and 5.1% (133/2595, including 10 CRCs) with CTC (RR 1.08; 95% CI 0.85 to 1.37). Distal AN DR was 3.9% (109/2673) with FS and 2.9% (76/2595) with CTC (RR 0.72; 95% CI 0.54 to 0.96); proximal AN DR was 1.2% (34/2595) for FS vs 2.7% (69/2595) for CTC (RR 2.06; 95% CI 1.37 to 3.10).Participation and DR for FS and CTC were comparable. AN DR was twice as high in the proximal colon and lower in the distal colon with CTC than with FS. Men were more likely to participate in CTC screening.NCT01739608; Pre-results.