The prevalence and significance of colorectal symptoms within a group of 1533 individuals was assessed using a self-completion questionnaire and results compared with faecal occult blood screening. One hundred and twenty eight individuals listed one or more symptoms, while only 12 had a positive blood occult test. Of the subjects studied, 6.6% had noticed bleeding from the rectum in the last six months, 8.7% diarrhoea, and 12.3% a change in bowel habit. Examination of these individuals revealed one (0.8%) to have an adenoma of the colon. By comparison, occult blood testing identified two patients with carcinoma and four with adenoma. Both of the patients with carcinoma and three out of the four with adenoma had replied negative to the questionnaire suggesting the self-completion questionnaire to be of little value in the early detection of colorectal neoplasia.
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