Objective: Guidelines on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening with guaiac faecal occult blood tests (gFOBTs) and faecal immunochemical tests (FITs) include the need for a pilot before a programme is introduced. Interval cancers (ICs), cancers arising after a negative screening test result but before the next scheduled invite, are important indicators of programme quality. Our aim was to compare IC in the gFOBT-based Scottish Bowel Screening Programme (SBoSP), a FIT-based pilot, and the FIT-based SBoSP, to assess if the pilot provided data that was reflected in the subsequent programme.
Design: The IC proportions (ICPs) data ([IC/(IC + screen detected CRC)] x 100) from the penultimate year of the gFOBT-based SBoSP, the 6-month pilot and the first year of the FIT-based SBoSP were compared. To ensure appropriate comparison, these data were only from the two pilot NHS Boards.
Results: For all participants, and females and males, the ICPs were very similar in the gFOBT-based SBoSP and the pilot. The faecal haemoglobin concentration (f-Hb) threshold for the pilot was set at ≥80 μg Hb/g faeces. However, in marked contrast, in the FIT-based SBoSP, at the same threshold, the ICPs were lower. In all three groups, the ICPs were higher in females than in males.
Conclusions: Data on variables in pilots, including ICP, can be informative, but only if variables such as FIT system are held consistent between pilot and programme. Lowering the f-Hb threshold for females to give the same ICP as males might be a strategy to minimise sex inequality.
- colorectal cancer screening
- faecal immunochemical test
- faecal occult blood test
- interval cancers
- Colorectal cancer screening