Background: Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) is widely accepted, but there is no consensus on the preferred strategy. We conducted a randomised trial comparing participation and detection rates (DR) per screenee of guaiac-based faecal occult blood test (gFOBT), immunochemical FOBT (FIT), and flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) for CRC screening.
Methods: A representative sample of the Dutch population (n = 15 011), aged 50–74 years, was 1:1:1 randomised prior to invitation to one of the three screening strategies. Colonoscopy was indicated for screenees with a positive gFOBT or FIT, and for those in whom FS revealed a polyp with a diameter ⩾10 mm; adenoma with ⩾25% villous component or high grade dysplasia; serrated adenoma; ⩾3 adenomas; ⩾20 hyperplastic polyps; or CRC.
Results: The participation rate was 49.5% (95% confidence interval (CI) 48.1 to 50.9%) for gFOBT, 61.5% (CI, 60.1 to 62.9%) for FIT and 32.4% (CI, 31.1 to 33.7%) for FS screening. gFOBT was positive in 2.8%, FIT in 4.8% and FS in 10.2%. The DR of advanced neoplasia was significantly higher in the FIT (2.4%; OR, 2.0; CI, 1.3 to 3.1) and the FS arm (8.0%; OR, 7.0; CI, 4.6 to 10.7) than the gFOBT arm (1.1%). FS demonstrated a higher diagnostic yield of advanced neoplasia per 100 invitees (2.4; CI, 2.0 to 2.8) than gFOBT (0.6; CI, 0.4 to 0.8) or FIT (1.5; CI, 1.2 to 1.9) screening.
Conclusion: This randomised population-based CRC-screening trial demonstrated superior participation and detection rates for FIT compared to gFOBT screening. FIT screening should therefore be strongly preferred over gFOBT screening. FS screening demonstrated a higher diagnostic yield per 100 invitees than both FOBTs.
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