Interval cancers in a community-based programme of colorectal cancer screening with faecal occult blood test

M A Tazi, J Faivre, C Lejeune, P Bolard, J M Phelip, A M Benhamiche
European Journal of Cancer Prevention 1999, 8 (2): 131-5
Interval cancers represent the major limitation of screening for colorectal cancer with the faecal occult blood test. The aim of this study was to describe the characteristics of interval cancers and the sensitivity of the screening programme in a well-defined French population. During five screening rounds, 398 cancers were diagnosed in those of the population having performed at least one screening test; 57.8% of them were interval cancers. The proportion of interval cancers was higher among cancers of the rectal ampulla (72.2%) than among cancers of other sites (52.9%) (P < 0.001). The proportion of TNM stage I and II were higher among screen-detected cancers (73.8%) than among interval cancers (57.4%). The overall sensitivity of the screening programme was 62.9% within 1 year, and 48.7% within 2 years. An improvement in the sensitivity of the faecal occult blood test for colorectal cancer screening is needed, without an unacceptable loss of specificity.

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