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Poll reveals faecal occult blood testing ambivalence

17 March 2010

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More must be done to engage doctors in population-based screening for colorectal cancer if the scheme is to be a success, GPs have warned.

A poll of 1,000 doctors by the University of Birmingham found a prevalence of less-than-enthusiastic attitudes towards screening and the use of faecal occult blood testing (FOBt).

While 95% said the programme reduced mortality, only 78% thought FOBt was effective, ranking it well below cervical smears and mammograms. Just half ranked the test as “very appropriate”, while 8% felt it was inappropriate.

A scale examination of attitudes towards FOBt, with three as the lowest and nine as the highest, reflected the ambivalent attitude, with an average score of 5.9 recorded.

Study leader Dr Sarah Damery claimed a programme to increase engagement with the test was necessary.

“The positive engagement of GPs with colorectal cancer screening, and with FOBt in particular, is required if screening uptake rates are to reach acceptable levels, and the projected colorectal cancer reductions observed in randomised controlled trials of FOBt screening are to be achieved in practice,” she said.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

University of Birmingham