(HealthDay)—Population-based fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) screening in adults aged 50 to 69 years can reduce colorectal cancer (CRC) mortality, according to a study published online May 20 in Cancer.

Han-Mo Chiu, Ph.D., from National Taiwan University, and colleagues conducted a prospective study of the follow-up of about five million Taiwanese from 2004 to 2009. CRC mortality was compared for a screened group and an unscreened group in a -based CRC service targeting 50- to 69-year-olds. Overall, 21.4 percent of the 5,417,699 subjects aged 50 to 69 years in the population participated in the biennial screening program by 2009.

The researchers found that, with a maximum follow-up of six years, the actual effectiveness of FIT in reducing CRC mortality was 62 percent (relative rate for screened versus unscreened group, 0.38). After adjustment for self-selection bias, the 21.4 percent coverage of the population receiving FIT correlated with a significant 10 percent reduction in CRC (relative rate, 0.9).

"Although such findings are informative for health decision makers, continued follow-up of this large cohort will be required to estimate the long-term impact of FIT screening if the covered population is expanded," the authors write.

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Journal information: Cancer