Through early detection, almost all colorectal cancers can be cured or even prevented. The exam is effective and simple – and it is not performed often enough. The new invitation process is intended to change this.
Colon cancer screening must improve: For this reason, the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) has approved a long-awaited new version of its guidelines for early detection of colon cancer. The newly introduced invitation process and the modified inclusion criteria can enable more people to profit from colon cancer screening in the future. The following specific improvements are stipulated in the guideline, which enters into force on October 1st, 2018:
- Eligible insured persons will regularly receive an invitation letter accompanied by information on the screening program. This structured invitation process is intended to motivate more people to take part in the colon cancer screening.
- Scientific data demonstrate that men have a higher risk of colon cancer than women. In the future therefore men will be entitled to a colonoscopy screening starting from 50 years of age instead of from 55.
- The screening program will be continually assessed and developed using a new structured data collection method.
As always, immunological tests for occult blood in the stool (iFOBT) can be used for early detection of colon cancer. Between ages of 50 – 54, women and men can have this stool test performed annually and afterwards it can be performed every two years, as long as no colonoscopy is utilized. In addition, women over 55 years of age and men over 50 years of age are entitled to two early detection colonoscopies at an interval of at least ten years. In case of an abnormal test result the patient is entitled to a colonoscopy to clarify the finding.
Background on the immunological stool test
Immunological tests can detect the presence of polyps in the colon through hidden (occult) blood in the stool. According to the G-BA guideline, the stool test used for this purpose must meet certain quality criteria: One test system that meets the requirements is the ELISA test RIDASCREEN® Haemoglobin in combination with the stool collection tube RIDA®TUBE Haemoglobin.
Background on the G-BA guideline
The European Code Against Cancer, an initiative of the European Commission, issues guidelines for quality assurance of early detection programs for cancer. In 2010, a new edition of the “European Guidelines on quality assurance of programs for early detection of colon cancer” was published. In Germany, the G-BA was in charge of developing specific guidelines for implementing early detection programs using these quality requirements.