Are screen detected colorectal cancers asymptomatic?
Article first published online: 7 FEB 2009
© 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 The Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland
Volume 12, Issue 5, pages 416–419, May 2010
How to Cite
Harmston, C., Akwei, S., Barnes, R., Goodyear, S. and Wong, L. (2010), Are screen detected colorectal cancers asymptomatic?. Colorectal Disease, 12: 416–419. doi: 10.1111/j.1463-1318.2009.01804.x
- Issue published online: 8 APR 2010
- Article first published online: 7 FEB 2009
- Received 14 October 2008; accepted 18 November 2008; Accepted Article online 7 February 2009
Objective Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening aims to detect asymptomatic disease and thus provide the opportunity for early diagnosis and treatment. This study assesses the prevalence of significant symptoms in patients found to have CRC detected through the NHS National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (NHS NBCSP) pilots.
Method All patients in the NHS NBCSP pilots with a positive faecal occult blood completed a standardized symptomatology questionnaire before colonoscopy. This data was entered into the NHS BCS pilot database, data from the English arm has been analysed retrospectively.
Results There were 200 patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Of these, 28.5% were Dukes A, 35% Dukes B, 31% Dukes C1 and 5.5% Dukes C2. Some 81.5% reported experiencing GI symptoms. Symptoms considered significant included rectal bleeding, change in bowel habit, tenesmus and peri-anal discomfort, reported in 47.7%, 24%%, 36.5% and 15.5% of patients respectively. In addition to this, 27% reported urgency, 20.5% reported abdominal pain and 29% reported upper GI symptoms.
Discussion This data suggests a high prevalence of significant symptoms amongst patients with screening-detected CRC. It is possible that these patients would have presented via routine colorectal services if the awareness of symptoms of colorectal cancer were increased.