Original Research5 June 2018
A Randomized Trial
    Author, Article, and Disclosure Information
    Background:

    The long-term effects of sigmoidoscopy screening on colorectal cancer (CRC) incidence and mortality in women and men are unclear.

    Objective:

    To determine the effectiveness of flexible sigmoidoscopy screening after 15 years of follow-up in women and men.

    Design:

    Randomized controlled trial. (ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT00119912)

    Setting:

    Oslo and Telemark County, Norway.

    Participants:

    Adults aged 50 to 64 years at baseline without prior CRC.

    Intervention:

    Screening (between 1999 and 2001) with flexible sigmoidoscopy with and without additional fecal blood testing versus no screening. Participants with positive screening results were offered colonoscopy.

    Measurements:

    Age-adjusted CRC incidence and mortality stratified by sex.

    Results:

    Of 98 678 persons, 20 552 were randomly assigned to screening and 78 126 to no screening. Adherence rates were 64.7% in women and 61.4% in men. Median follow-up was 14.8 years. The absolute risks for CRC in women were 1.86% in the screening group and 2.05% in the control group (risk difference, −0.19 percentage point [95% CI, −0.49 to 0.11 percentage point]; HR, 0.92 [CI, 0.79 to 1.07]). In men, the corresponding risks were 1.72% and 2.50%, respectively (risk difference, −0.78 percentage point [CI, −1.08 to −0.48 percentage points]; hazard ratio [HR], 0.66 [CI, 0.57 to 0.78]) (P for heterogeneity = 0.004). The absolute risks for death from CRC in women were 0.60% in the screening group and 0.59% in the control group (risk difference, 0.01 percentage point [CI, −0.16 to 0.18 percentage point]; HR, 1.01 [CI, 0.77 to 1.33]). The corresponding risks for death from CRC in men were 0.49% and 0.81%, respectively (risk difference, −0.33 percentage point [CI, −0.49 to −0.16 percentage point]; HR, 0.63 [CI, 0.47 to 0.83]) (P for heterogeneity = 0.014).

    Limitation:

    Follow-up through national registries.

    Conclusion:

    Offering sigmoidoscopy screening in Norway reduced CRC incidence and mortality in men but had little or no effect in women.

    Primary Funding Source:

    Norwegian government and Norwegian Cancer Society.

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