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Direct mailing of blood test kits increases colorectal cancer screening

Direct mailing of fecal occult blood test (FOBT) kits combined with follow-up reminders increases adherence to colorectal cancer screening guidelines, according to a new study published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

About 148,000 Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year and 56,600 die from the disease. Several studies have shown that screening reduces deaths from colorectal cancer. National guidelines recommend one of four screening methods for colorectal cancer for people aged 50 and older: an annual FOBT, a flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, a colonoscopy every 10 years, or a double-contrast barium enema x-ray every 5 years.

Half of the U.S. population, however, does not take advantage of colorectal cancer screening. To investigate ways to increase the rate of colorectal cancer screening, Timothy R. Church, Ph.D., of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial of 1451 people aged 50 and older from Wright County, Minn. Participants were placed into three groups: the control group received only a questionnaire that asked about their use of colorectal cancer screening tests; a second group received a questionnaire followed by an FOBT kit; and the third group received a questionnaire followed by an FOBT kit and additional reminders to complete the test. One year later, the researchers sent participants a follow-up questionnaire again asking about their screening use. The trial took place within the context of a county-wide campaign to educate the community about colorectal cancer screening.

In the first questionnaire, 21.5% of the people reported that they followed the guidelines for fecal occult blood testing and 55.8% reported that they followed at least one of the national guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. After a year had passed, the percentage of people who reported following the FOBT guidelines increased, in absolute per
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Contact: Sarah L. Zielinski
jncimedia@oupjournals.org
301-841-1287
Journal of the National Cancer Institute
18-May-2004


Page: 1 2

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