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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 26, Issue 7, Pages 419-423
Original Article

Patients Undergoing Colorectal Cancer Screening Underestimate Their Cancer Risk and Delay Presentation for Screening

Haili Wang, Nicholas Gies, Clarence Wong, Dan Sadowski, Barbara Moysey, and Richard N Fedorak

Division of Gastroenterology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Received 12 August 2011; Accepted 5 December 2011

Copyright © 2012 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in Canada. Screening guidelines recommend that first-time screening should occur at 50 years of age for average-risk individuals and at 40 years of age for those with a family history of CRC.

OBJECTIVE: To examine whether persons with a positive CRC family history were achieving screening at 40 years of age and whether average-risk persons were achieving screening at 50 years of age.

METHODS: The present study was a cross-sectional analysis of subjects who entered a colon cancer screening program and were undergoing CRC screening for the first time.

RESULTS: A total of 778 individuals were enrolled in the present study: 340 (174 males) with no family history of CRC, and 438 (189 males) with a positive family history of CRC. For the group with a positive family history, the mean (± SD) age for primary screening was 54.4±8.5 years, compared with 58.2±6.4 years for the group with no family history. On average, those with a positive family history initiated screening 3.8 years (95% CI 2.8 to 4.8; P<0.05) earlier than those without. Adenoma polyp detection rate for the positive family history group was 20.8% (n=91) compared with 23.5 % (n=80) for the group with no family history.

CONCLUSIONS: Individuals with a positive CRC family history are initiating screening approximately four years earlier than those without a family history; nevertheless, both groups are undergoing screening well past current guideline recommendations.