Improving Participation in Colorectal Cancer Screening: a Randomised Controlled Trial of Sequential Offers of Faecal then Blood Based Non-Invasive Tests


Background: Poor participation rates are often observed in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs utilising faecal occult blood tests. This may be from dislike of faecal sampling, or having benign bleeding conditions that can interfere with test results. These barriers may be circumvented by offering a blood-based DNA test for screening. The aim was to determine if program participation could be increased by offering a blood test following faecal immunochemical test (FIT) non-participation. Materials and
Methods: People were invited into a CRC screening study through their General Practice and randomised into control or intervention (n=600/group). Both groups were mailed a FIT (matching conventional screening programs). Participation was defined as FIT completion within 12wk. Intervention group non-participants were offered a screening blood test (methylated BCAT1/IKZF1). Overall participation was compared between the groups.
Results: After 12wk, FIT participation was 82% and 81% in the control and intervention groups. In the intervention 96 FIT nonparticipants were offered the blood test - 22 completed this test and 19 completed the FIT instead. Total screening in the intervention group was greater than the control (88% vs 82%, p<0.01). Of 12 invitees who indicated that FIT was inappropriate for them (mainly due to bleeding conditions), 10 completed the blood test (83%).
Conclusions: Offering a blood test to FIT non-participants increased overall screening participation compared to a conventional FIT program. Blood test participation was particularly high in invitees who considered FIT to be inappropriate for them. A blood test may be a useful adjunct test within a FIT program.