Community screening for colorectal cancer in north-eastern New South Wales, 1987-1996.
OBJECTIVE: To analyse results of Bowelscan, a community-based colorectal cancer screening program using Hemoccult II, and targeting people aged 40 years and over. DESIGN: Survey of data from medical practitioners on follow-up of positive tests. SETTING: North-eastern New South Wales (Rotary District 9650), 1987-1996. SUBJECTS: 3845 people with positive results for faecal occult blood. OUTCOME MEASURES: Investigations performed; final diagnoses; number, site and Dukes' stage of colorectal carcinomas; number and histological diagnosis of colorectal polyps. RESULTS: 239,500 Hemoccult II kits were distributed between 1987 and 1996, with an estimated return rate of 80%-85%. Positive results for faecal occult blood were reported for 3845 tests (1.6% of those distributed), with 78% of these investigated by colonoscopy and/or barium enema. Investigation resulted in diagnosis of 260 colorectal carcinomas in 252 people (6.7%); 74 of these (29%) were in the caecum or ascending or transverse colon. Dukes' tumour stages were: A, 107 (41%); B, 86 (33%); C, 49 (19%); D, 16 (6%); and unknown, 2 (0.8%). (Corresponding figures from the NSW Central Cancer Registry were: A and B, 48%; C, 26%; D, 14% and unknown 12%) [corrected]. Colorectal polyps were found in a further 819 people (21.3%), and were adenomatous in 577 (79% of the 733 in whom histological diagnosis was available). Other gastrointestinal conditions were found in 1343 people (34.9%), while no cause was found for the positive result, despite adequate investigation, in 873 (22.7%). CONCLUSION: Community-based screening with faecal occult blood testing detected colorectal carcinomas at earlier histological stages than colorectal carcinomas reported to the Cancer Registry and should reduce mortality from this disease. Treatment and follow-up of adenomatous polyps detected by such a program might minimise the incidence of colorectal carcinoma in this group.
Functional (non-ulcer) dyspepsia: unexplained but not unmanageable.
Hu WH. Talley NJ.
Department of Medicine, University of Sydney, Nepean Hospital, NSW.
Functional dyspepsia--defined as chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort centred in the upper abdomen, with no clinical or endoscopic evidence of known organic disease--is very common and causes considerable morbidity and loss of productivity. A first priority in management is reassuring patients that they do not have a serious disorder. Few drugs have established benefit and the choice depends on which symptoms predominate--prokinetic drugs may be most beneficial in those in whom discomfort (rather than pain), bloating or nausea is the most bothersome complaint and antisecretory drugs in those with predominant epigastric pain.
Colorectal cancer screening by general practitioners: comparison with national guidelines.
Olynyk JK. Aquilia S. Platell CF. Fletcher DR. Henderson S. Dickinson JA.
University Department of Medicine, Fremantle Hospital, WA. firstname.lastname@example.org
OBJECTIVE: To determine whether general practitioners (GPs) had received Australian guidelines on early detection, screening and surveillance for colorectal cancer or rectal bleeding, and whether their reported practice conformed with these guidelines. DESIGN: Cross-sectional postal survey of self-reported practice. PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING: 213 GPs in practice in the southern metropolitan area of Perth, Western Australia, were randomly selected from the Fremantle Regional Division of General Practice database and surveyed in March 1997. RESULTS: Replies were received from 155 (73%) of the GPs, and 110 reported receiving guidelines (from the Australian Gastroenterology Institute [AGI], 44; Gut Foundation of Australia [GFA], 40; others, 6; and not specified, 20). GPs who reported receiving guidelines were significantly more likely to screen for colorectal cancer (99/110; 90%) than those who reported not receiving guidelines (33/45; 73%) (P = 0.008). The commonest method to investigate people with identifiable risk factors for colorectal cancer was colonoscopy. Reported screening frequencies in asymptomatic patients with above-average risk (family history of colorectal cancer or past history of adenomatous polyps or colorectal cancer) were significantly higher than recommended by AGI and GFA guidelines (P < 0.05). Up to 24% of GPs investigated altered bowel habit or bleeding per rectum with faecal occult blood testing. CONCLUSIONS: Most GPs report having received guidelines. Reported screening frequency was higher than recommended for most above-average-risk patients, which will result in excessive consumption of resources without benefits for cancer prevention.