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Eur J Surg Oncol. 1998 Dec;24(6):477-86.

Screening for colorectal cancer: present, past and future.

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Department of Surgery, Keele University, North Staffordshire, UK.


Colorectal cancer results in 18,000 deaths annually in England and Wales, with 24,000 new cases diagnosed each year. Despite a better understanding of the genetics, and advancement in surgical and anaesthetic techniques, there has been little reduction in mortality and morbidity from this disease over the past 25 years. Colorectal cancer fits recognized criteria for a disease that should be screened in asymptomatic individuals. The putative duration of the adenoma to carcinoma sequence gives an ample window of opportunity to detect and treat colorectal cancer. In this article we have reviewed the strategies involved in screening for colorectal cancer in an asymptomatic population. We have presented trials and arguments for and against the different screening methods and discussed cost effectiveness of screening. In the USA and Canada, major professional organizations and societies now endorse screening; in the UK it is still far from being accepted. We feel that the available evidence shows that colorectal cancer screening has the potential to reduce the morbidity and mortality from this disease and that funding for a mass screening and public education programme should be sought.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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