Review of the evidence for a colorectal cancer screening programme in elderly people.
Quarini, C. and Gosney, M. (2009) Review of the evidence for a colorectal cancer screening programme in elderly people. Age and ageing, 38 (5). pp. 503-508. ISSN 1468-2834
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afp103
Colorectal cancer is a major public health issue, contributing to 16,000 UK deaths per year, most of these in the elderly population. A new NHS screening programme for colorectal cancer in people over 60 is being introduced across the country throughout 2009. The aim of this research was to review the current literature on colorectal cancer screening and determine how much of the evidence for screening is applicable to elderly people. MEDLINE database was searched for articles published between 1990 and 2007, using search terms of colorectal neoplasms, mass-screening, faecal occult blood, colonoscopy and sigmoidoscopy. Articles for inclusion were limited to those in English and those including older adults. The results showed that evidence for colorectal cancer screening in general has been well researched. However, little was found specifically on screening for elderly people, or looking at the different benefits and limitations in older people compared to younger people. Very few health agencies suggested an upper age limit for screening. In conclusion, there is very little research on screening for colorectal cancer specifically in elderly people, although many health authorities advise such screening. The health needs of an older population are different to those of middle-aged people and at present the screening programmes do not appear to reflect this.