Screening for colorectal cancer in Italy: 2005 survey.

Manuel Zorzi, Alessandra Barca, Fabio Falcini, Grazia Grazzini, Renato Pizzuti, Alessandra Ravaioli, Priscilla Sassoli de Bianchi, Carlo Senore, Angelo Sigillito, Marcello Vettorazzi, Carmen Visioli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present the main results from the second survey of the Italian screening programmes for colorectal cancer carried out by the National Centre for Screening Monitoring on behalf of the Ministry of Health. During 2005, 52 programmes, adopting faecal occult blood testing (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy (FS), or a combination of both, were active in Italy. Overall, 827,473 subjects were invited to FOBT and 376,240 were screened; the adjusted attendance rate (47.1%) equals the best performances reported in the literature. Positivity rate of FOBT programmes was 5.8% at first and 4.1% at repeat screening: it increased with age and was higher among males than females in all age groups. The average attendance rate to colonoscopy (TC) was 82% (range: 56%-100%). Completion rate of TC was 91%, with higher rates among males. At first screening, the detection rate (DR) per 1000 screened subjects was 3.7 and 16.8 for invasive cancer and advanced adenomas (AA) (adenomas with a diameter > or =1 cm, with villous/tubulo-villous type or with high-grade dysplasia) respectively; the corresponding figures at repeat screening were 1.1 for cancer and 4.9 for AA. The DR of cancer and adenomas increased with age and it was higher among males, 55% of screen-detected cancers were at TNM stage I. The positive predictive value (PPV) was 7.4% for cancer and 32.9% for AA at first screening, and 4.5% for cancer and 20.5% for AA at repeat screening. Given this high PPV of positive FOBT, to obtain a high attendance at TC is crucial. The six FS programmes invited almost half of their target population (about 40,000 subjects) and 5,821 subjects were screened, with an attendance rate of 29.1%. Overall 89.0% of FS were classified as complete. TC referral rates ranged between 7.7 and 13.8%, due to different referral criteria. Among subjects referred to colonoscopy the prevalence of proximal AA and cancer ranged from 5.4 to 11.1%. The overall DR (subjects with at least one advanced lesion) ranged from 3.5 to 7.0%. In conclusion, during 2005 the organised programmes for colorectal cancer screening in Italy increased considerably, covering about one third of the eligible population at a national level. Many programmes were activated in the second part of the year, thus their results have to be evaluated with caution. However, the reported experiences showed good results in terms of attendance and DR, although some critical aspects need to be carefully addressed when planning and implementing screening activity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-60
Number of pages12
JournalEpidemiologia e prevenzione
Issue number2-3 Suppl 2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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