Risk-stratified strategies in population screening for colorectal cancer

Iris Lansdorp-Vogelaar*, Reinier Meester, Lucie de Jonge, Andrea Buron, Ulrike Haug, Carlo Senore

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
25 Downloads (Pure)


Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening has been demonstrated to reduce CRC incidence and mortality. However, besides such benefits, CRC screening is also associated with potential harmful effects. In an ideal world, screening would only be directed to the small proportion of the population that might potentially benefit. Risk-based screening can be seen as a first step towards this ideal world, by redistributing screening resources from low-risk to high-risk individuals. In theory, this should result in scarce resources being used in individuals who benefit most, while intensity of screening is reduced in individuals who benefit less, hence improving the benefit-harm ratio among all invitees. Available strategies that have been proposed for risk-based CRC screening include using information on age, sex, prior screening history, lifestyle and/or genetic information. Implementation of risk-based screening requires careful consideration of reliable risk prediction models, participation with screening and informed decision-making. While it is important to recognise the limitations of current approaches, available evidence suggests that it might be feasible to start planning the introduction of tailored strategies within screening programmes. Implementing risk-based screening based on age, sex and prior screening history alone would already represent a substantial improvement over current uniform screening approaches. We propose that it is time that screening programmes start there and continue striving towards more comprehensive approaches embedding primary prevention as an effective approach to lower risk for everyone.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)397-405
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Early online date30 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. International Journal of Cancer published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of UICC.


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