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Reduced Emergency Admissions Linked to Cancer Screening

Increased early detection of colorectal cancer and changing attitudes of doctors and patients toward screening play role

THURSDAY, Nov. 29 (HealthDay News) -- A pilot fecal occult blood test screening program for detecting colorectal cancer is associated with a decline in emergency colorectal cancer workload and a reduced incidence of 30-day mortality, according to study findings published online Nov. 29 in Gut.

Steve J. Goodyear, of the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust in Coventry, U.K., and colleagues analyzed data from the English arm of the U.K. Bowel Cancer Screening Pilot, covering admissions from 1999 (the pre-screening year) through 2004.

In the year before screening began, 29.4 percent of colorectal cancer admissions were emergencies, compared with only 15.8 percent in 2004. The number of emergency procedures dropped, as did 30-day mortality, from 48 percent in 1999 to 13 percent in 2004. Of cases requiring emergency treatment, the proportion of stage C cancers remained stable during the course of the study.

"The witnessed and notable positive impact over such a short time period is the result of increased detection of asymptomatic malignancies within the screening program, increased public awareness of the symptoms of colorectal cancer, together with a change in attitudes and referral patterns of general practitioners," the authors conclude.

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