Strategies to minimise the current disadvantages experienced by women in faecal immunochemical test-based colorectal cancer screening

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

Abstract

Currently, women are disadvantaged compared to men in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, particularly in programmes that use faecal immunochemical tests for haemoglobin (FIT) followed by colonoscopy. Although there is no single cause for all the known disadvantages, many can be attributed to the ubiquitous finding that women have lower faecal haemoglobin concentrations (f-Hb) than men; there are many plausible reasons for this. Generally, a single f-Hb threshold is used in CRC screening programmes, leading to lower positivity for women than men, which causes poorer outcomes for women, including lower CRC detection rate, higher interval cancer (IC) proportion, and higher CRC mortality. Many of the now widely advocated risk scoring strategies do include factors taking account of sex, but these have not been extensively piloted or introduced. Using different f-Hb thresholds for the sexes seems advantageous, but there are difficulties, including deciding which characteristic should be selected to achieve equivalency, for example, positivity, IC proportions, or specificity. Moreover, additional colonoscopy resources, often constrained, would be required. Governments and their agencies should be encouraged to prioritise the allocation of resources to put simple strategies into practice, such as different f-Hb thresholds to create equal positivity in both sexes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1496-1505
Number of pages10
JournalClinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (CCLM)
Volume60
Issue number10
Early online date13 Jul 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

Keywords

  • colorectal cancer
  • colonoscopy
  • faecal immunochemical test
  • faecal haemoglobin
  • risk-scoring
  • screening

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