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  • Benedicte Kirkøen, Paula Berstad, Edoardo Botteri, Tone Lise Åvitsland, Alvilde Maria Ossum, Thomas de Lange, Geir Hoff & Tomm Bernklev

Do no harm: no psychological harm from colorectal cancer screening

  • Br J Cancer  | 
  • 2016

Background: Participation in cancer screening programmes might cause worries in the population outweighing the benefits of reduced mortality. The present study aimed to investigate possible psychological harm of participation in a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening pilot in Norway.

Methods: In a prospective, randomised trial participants (aged 50-74 years) were invited to either flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) screening, faecal immunochemical test (FIT), or no screening (the control group; 1 : 1: 1). Three thousand two hundred and thirteen screening participants (42% of screened individuals) completed the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale questionnaire as well as the SF-12-a health-related quality of life (HRQOL) questionnaire when invited to screening and when receiving the screening result. A control group was invited to complete the questionnaires only. Two thousand six hundred and eighteen control participants (35% of invited individuals) completed the questionnaire.

Results: A positive screening result did not increase participants' level of anxiety or depression, or decrease participants' level of HRQOL. Participants who received a negative result reported decreased anxiety and improvement on some HRQOL dimensions. However, no change was considered to be of clinical relevance.

Conclusion: The current study showed no clinically relevant psychological harm of receiving a positive CRC screening result or of participating in FS or FIT screening, in a Norwegian population.

Kirkøen, B., Berstad, P., Botteri, E., Åvitsland, T. L., Ossum, A. M., de Lange, T., Hoff, G. & Bernklev, T. (2016). Do no harm: no psychological harm from colorectal cancer screening. Br J Cancer.  Mar 1;114(5):497-504.