The team of the Cancer Screening Unit together with researchers from the Biomarkers and Susceptibility Unit of the Institut Català d’Oncologia have demonstrated the benefit of participating in population screening for colorectal cancer with the fecal occult blood test in l’Hospitalet de Llobregat and l’Alt Penedès. This test allows to analyze if there is a quantity of blood in the stool that is not visible to the naked eye. Participation in the screening program has been associated with a reduction in mortality from colorectal cancer in men and women aged 50 to 69 years. Regular screening can detect lesions in the colon and rectum that may become malignant or detect early stage cancers.
The study highlights a decrease in mortality in the screening participant group compared to those individuals who were invited to participate but never had a fecal occult blood test (20% mortality in participants vs. 36% in non-participants).
Despite this, the fecal occult blood test is not a perfect test and can give a false-negative result. Tumors that are missed by screening tests are known as interval cancers and are diagnosed after a negative result in the screening episode but before the next cancer screening program invitation. Therefore, one should see a physician when a symptom appears even if we have recently had a negative fecal occult blood test result.