Population screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) is widely adopted, but the preferred strategy is still under debate. We aimed to compare reduced (r-CTC) and full cathartic preparation CT colonography (f-CTC), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and optical colonoscopy (OC) as primary screening tests for CRC.Methods:
Citizens of a district of Florence, Italy, age 54 to 65 years, were allocated (8:2.5:2.5:1) with simple randomization to be invited by mail to one of four screening interventions: 1) biennial FIT for three rounds, 2) r-CTC, 3) f-CTC, 4) OC. Patients tested positive to FIT or CTC (at least one polyp ≥6mm) were referred to OC work-up. The primary outcomes were participation rate and detection rate (DR) for cancer or advanced adenoma (advanced neoplasia). All statistical tests were two-sided.Results:
Sixteen thousand eighty-seven randomly assigned subjects were invited to the assigned screening test. Participation rates were 50.4% (4677/9288) for first-round FIT, 28.1% (674/2395) for r-CTC, 25.2% (612/2430) for f-CTC, and 14.8% (153/1036) for OC. All differences between groups were statistically significant (P = .047 for r-CTC vs f-CTC; P < .001 for all others). DRs for advanced neoplasia were 1.7% (79/4677) for first-round FIT, 5.5% (37/674) for r-CTC, 4.9% (30/612) for f-CTC, and 7.2% (11/153) for OC. Differences in DR between CTC groups and FIT were statistically significant (P < .001), but not between r-CTC and f-CTC (P = .65).Conclusions:
Reduced preparation increases participation in CTC. Lower attendance and higher DR of CTC as compared with FIT are key factors for the optimization of its role in population screening of CRC.