Colorectal cancer incidence, mortality, tumour characteristics, and treatment before and after introduction of the faecal immunochemical testing-based screening programme in the Netherlands: a population-based study

Emilie C.H. Breekveldt*, Iris Lansdorp-Vogelaar, Dutch National Colorectal Cancer Screening Working Group, Esther Toes-Zoutendijk, Manon C.W. Spaander, Anneke J. van Vuuren, Folkert J. van Kemenade, Christian R.B. Ramakers, Evelien Dekker, Iris D. Nagtegaal, Myrtle F. Krul, Niels F.M. Kok, Koert F.D. Kuhlmann, Geraldine R. Vink, Monique E. van Leerdam, Marloes A.G. Elferink, Jeroen van Bergeijk, Tjerk Wiersma, Wilhelmina van Grevenstein, Marieke FrasaLinda van Gestel, Gerrit Meijer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: In 2014, a population-based colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programme was stepwise implemented in the Netherlands comprising faecal immunochemical testing once every 2 years, with a cutoff value for positivity of 47 μg haemoglobin per g faeces. We aimed to assess CRC incidence, mortality, tumour characteristics, and treatment before and after introduction of this screening programme. Methods: We did a retrospective, observational, population-based study in the Netherlands and gathered CRC incidence data from the Netherlands Cancer Registry from Jan 1, 2010, to Dec 31, 2019, in people aged 55 years or older. Patients with a CRC diagnosis between Jan 1, 2014, and Dec 31, 2018, in the Netherlands Cancer Registry were linked with the nationwide registry of histopathology and cytopathology (PALGA) to identify mode of detection (ie, screening-detected vs clinically detected). We calculated age-standardised CRC incidence rates and used data from Statistics Netherlands to calculate CRC-related mortality in 2010–19. We compared localisation, stage distribution, and treatment of screening-detected CRCs with clinically detected CRCs diagnosed in 2014–18 in patients aged 55–75 years. Findings: Between Jan 1, 2010, and Dec 31, 2019, 125 215 CRCs were diagnosed in individuals aged 55 years or older and were included in the analyses for CRC incidence. Before the introduction of the screening programme, the age-standardised CRC incidence rate was 214·3 per 100 000 population in 2013 in people aged 55 years or older. After the introduction of the screening programme, this rate initially increased to 259·2 per 100 000 population in 2015, and subsequently decreased to 181·5 per 100 000 population in 2019. Age-standardised incidence rates for advanced CRCs (stage III and IV) were 117·0 per 100 000 population in 2013 and increased to 122·8 per 100 000 population in 2015; this rate then decreased to 94·7 per 100 000 population in 2018. Age-standardised CRC mortality decreased from 87·5 deaths per 100 000 population in 2010 to 64·8 per 100 000 population in 2019. Compared with clinically detected CRCs, screening-detected CRCs were more likely to be located in the left side of the colon (48·6% vs 35·2%) and to be detected at an early stage (I or II; 66·7% vs 46·2%). Screening-detected CRCs were more likely to be treated by local excision compared with clinically detected CRCs, and this finding persisted when stage I CRCs were analysed separately. Interpretation: After introduction of this national screening programme, a decrease in overall and advanced-stage CRC incidence was observed. In view of this observation, together with the observed shift to detection at earlier stages and more screening-detected CRCs being treated by local excision, we might cautiously conclude that, in the long-term, faecal immunochemical testing-based screening could ultimately lead to a decrease in CRC-related morbidity and mortality. Funding: None.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-68
Number of pages9
JournalThe Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Volume7
Issue number1
Early online date22 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

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