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A study published by Kronborg et al (Lancet, 1996) revealed that biennial screening with faecal occult blood testing reduced mortality from colorectal cancer.
The study involved 30, 967 adults who were assigned to biennial screening using a guaiac-based FOBT (in this case Haemoccult-II). Patients using the test were advised to have dietary restrictions before the test (no red meat, fresh fruit, iron preparations, vitamin C, or aspirin or other non-steroidal rheumatic drugs for 3 days before testing).
Two other trials (2,3) have also provided evidence that faecal occult blood testing every two years has the potential to reduce mortality by up to 20%.
A further trial by Mendel et al (4) has shown that both annual and biennial faecal occult blood screening reduced the incidence of colorectal cancer. This trial also showed, for the first time, that faecal occult blood screening can decrease both the rate of cancer and the mortality rate.