Study Aims To Determine Why Patients Drop Out of Colon Cancer Screening

Dr Siu Hing Lo Research Associate in Health Psychology UCL Research Department of Epidemiology and Interview with:
Dr Siu Hing Lo

Research Associate in Health Psychology UCL
Research Department of Epidemiology and Public

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Lo: Most types of population-based cancer screening – such as the Faecal Occult Blood (FOB) test – require repeat participation to be effective. The Faecal Occult Blood test is a stool test that typically needs to be self-completed every two years. This study investigated predictors of repeat participation in the NHS Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP). Late kit return, a definitive abnormal [FOB test] result and failure to comply with a follow-up colonoscopy in a previous screening episode were consistently and independently associated with lower repeat uptake.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Lo: Repeat screening is particularly important for FOB-based colorectal cancer screening. For FOB screening to be effective, it is important that patients comply with all screening recommendations and follow-up examinations. We know that patients are more likely to drop out of screening if they took a long time to return their test kit in previous screening rounds, so we would urge people not to put off test completion. It should also be emphasised that patients are recommended to continue with FOB screening even if they had a clear colonoscopy result.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Lo: In our study we identified risk factors for dropping out of routine screening. Future research should aim to address the question why people are at risk of dropout if they take a long time to complete their FOB test kit and when they have received an abnormal result in the past.


 Predictors of repeat participation in the NHS bowel cancer screening programme

S H Lo, S Halloran J Snowball H Seaman, J Wardle and C von Wagner
British Journal of Cancer (2015) 112, 199–206. doi:10.1038/bjc.2014.569
Published online 27 November 2014

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Last Updated on January 7, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD