Significantly lower uptake of FIT screening for colorectal cancer in men

Researchers at the Registry have carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of faecal immunochemical testing (FIT) for colorectal cancer screening.

Nick Clarke, a Registry researcher and Irish Cancer Society research scholar presented the findings of the review at the Controlling Cancer Summit in the 02 in London recently. The FIT test is being used in Ireland’s new national colorectal cancer screening programme (BowelScreen), which began in 2013.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in men and the second in women worldwide with incidence higher in men than women. However, screening for CRC can detect pre-cancerous polyps thereby preventing cancer, or can detect cancer at an earlier stage, when treatment outcomes should be more favourable. Some studies have reported lower colorectal cancer screening uptake among men, but it was unclear whether this held for FIT.  Given higher incidence and mortality and lower survival among men, it is important to understand the effect of gender on FIT based screening behaviour.

Nick reported to the cancer summit that uptake rates of FIT-based colorectal cancer screening are significantly lower among men than women. Few factors affected the estimates of uptake; however uptake seems to increases in older males as well as when screening programmes provided professional medical contact or recommendations to complete the test. Further investigation is required to identify the factors that influence acceptability of FIT screening among men, while national screening programmes should plan and design programmes with a greater focus on gender-based strategies to maximise the number of people completing the test.

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