BACKGROUND: Each year in Germany, about 65 000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer (CRC) and more than 25 000 people die of the disease. The majority of these cases could be avoided by a more effective screening programme. Recently, a law came into force that offers a great opportunity in this regard. It calls for introducing an organised CRC screening programme in Germany, which includes an invitation system as well as further measures for quality assurance and programme evaluation. To realise this opportunity, challenges of implementation need to be considered. The aim of this review article is to elaborate the challenges of an organised CRC screening in Germany in order to derive the need for action regarding successful implementation. METHODS: This review article is based on a selective literature search, including current guidelines and recommendations. RESULTS AND CONCLUSION: In the context of CRC screening, but also by colonoscopies performed for other indications (e. g., due to symptoms), precancerous lesions (adenomas) are detected and removed in a relevant proportion of the target population, which requires a surveillance examination after 3 or 5 years according to current recommendations. Therefore, an efficient invitation system for CRC screening should be designed to allow for a flexible interval depending on previous findings, which differs from mammography screening with its fixed interval. A prerequisite would be the standardised documentation of all colonoscopies irrespective of the indication, given that a substantial proportion of colonoscopies in Germany are performed outside of the screening program. Still, the work load regarding documentation could be less than for mammography screening. Another challenge in terms of organisation results from the parallel offer of 2 different screening tools (colonoscopy and faecal occult blood test). To realise the potential of an organised CRC screening, it seems important to devote sufficient time and resources for developing an efficient and feasible concept, while there might be interim options to avoid further delay regarding the initial invitation of the target population. Given that expertise from, amongst others, gastroenterology, epidemiology, clinical chemistry and health communication is required, an interdisciplinary approach appears essential.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published