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Colorectal cancer screening: ensuring benefits outweigh the risks

Emma L Rosenfeld and Anne E Duggan
Med J Aust 2008; 188 (4): 196-197.
Published online: 18 February 2008

The psychological downsides, equity of access for women, and patients’ understanding of the limitations of screening need consideration

Australian states are currently rolling out colorectal cancer screening as part of the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. Its success depends on the “physical or psychological harm to those concerned be[ing] less than the chance of benefit”.1 The benefits are clear. Randomised controlled trials show a 16% reduction in colorectal cancer mortality with faecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy of people with a positive faecal occult blood test (FOBT) result.2 In contrast, less attention has been paid to the psychological impact of colorectal cancer screening. Its effective management may also improve screening outcomes.

  • Emma L Rosenfeld1
  • Anne E Duggan2,1

  • 1 Hunter New England Health, Newcastle, NSW.
  • 2 Department of Gastroenterology, John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle, NSW.


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