Prevalence of FOB testing in eastern-Australian general practice patients: what has a national bowel cancer screening program delivered?
Issues addressed: The National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) was introduced in Australia in 2006, offering free immunochemical Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) to persons aged 50, 55 or 65. The study aimed to examine the prevalence of selfreported screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) using the FOBT and factors associated with not having an FOBT. Methods: A cross-sectional study of Australian general practice patients aged 50 and over with no personal history of CRC completed a health risk survey while waiting for scheduled appointments between November 2010 and November 2011. Results: A total of 5671 patients from 12 practices were approached to participate. Of the 4707 eligible patients (adults attending for care who understood English and were capable of providing informed consent), 4062 (86%) consented to participate, with 2269 eligible to complete the FOBT items. Approximately half (52%) of participants reported ever having an FOBT. More than one-third (39.7%) of the sample reported having an FOBT in the prior three years. Thosewhorecalled receiving a mailed kit as part of the NBCSP were five times more likely to report being screened. Those less likely to report screening were aged 50-59 years, were female and had been diagnosed with a form of cancer other than CRC. Conclusions: There is justification for the extension of the NBCSP to ensure a majority of the age-appropriate population is screened for CRC.