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N Z Med J. 2012 Jun 8;125(1356):85-95.

Colonoscopy requirements of population screening for colorectal cancer in New Zealand.

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Department of Management, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.



To estimate the colonoscopy burden of introducing population screening for colorectal cancer in New Zealand.


Screening for colorectal cancer using biennial immunochemical faecal occult blood tests offered to people aged 50-74 years of age was modelled using population estimates from Statistics New Zealand for 2011-2031. Modelling to determine colonoscopy requirements was based on participation and test positivity rates from published results of screening programmes. Estimates of the number of procedures required for ongoing adenoma surveillance were calculated using screening literature results of adenoma yield, and New Zealand Guidelines for Adenoma Surveillance. Sensitivity analysis was undertaken on key parameters.


For a test positivity of 6.4%, biennial screening using immunochemical faecal occult blood testing with a 60% participation rate, would require 18,000 colonoscopies nationally, increasing to 28,000 by 2031. The majority of procedures are direct referrals from a positive FOBT, with surveillance colonoscopy numbers building over time.


Colonoscopy requirements for immunochemical faecal occult blood based population screening for colorectal cancer are high. Significant expansion of services is required and careful management of surveillance procedures to ensure timely delivery of initial colonoscopies whilst maintaining symptomatic services. A model re-run informed by data from the screening pilot will allow improved estimates for the New Zealand setting.

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