Patients with colorectal cancer (CRC) detected via screening are more likely to have a favorable prognosis, regardless of disease stage, according to a study published in The Lancet Regional Health – Europe

The 5-year overall survival (OS) rate was higher for patients with screen-detected CRC than for patients with CRC not detected via screening, and this was true across all disease stages.

For this study, researchers analyzed data from 16 population-based cancer registries in 9 European countries (Belgium, Denmark, England, Ireland, Netherlands, Slovenia, France, Italy, and Spain). 

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The study included data from 134,597 patients who were 60-69 years of age at CRC diagnosis. The patients were diagnosed starting from the year that organized CRC screening programs were introduced in each country until the most recent year with data available.

Less than a quarter of patients (22.3%, n=30,080) had CRC detected via screening. Patients with screen-detected CRC were more likely than patients without screen-detected CRC to be men (66.6% vs 61.0%; P <.0001), have cancer in the distal colon (42.0% vs 28.9%; P <.0001), and have stage I disease at diagnosis (43.0% vs 18.6%; P <.0001). 

The 5-year OS rate was 83.4% for patients with screen-detected CRC, 57.5% for patients with CRC not detected via screening, and 63.1% for all patients combined. The 5-year CRC-specific survival rate was 89.2%, 65.7%, and 71.1%, respectively.

The favorable survival trend among screen-detected cases was observed across disease stages. The 5-year OS rates were improved for screen-detected vs non-screen detected CRC for stage I (92.4% vs 86.7%), stage II (87.9% vs 79.2%), stage III (80.7% vs 66.2%), and stage IV (32.3% vs 13.9%) disease. 

“Irrespective of the causes for the very favorable prognosis of patients with screen-detected cancer, our data show the actual survival probabilities for this increasing group of patients and are thus of high clinical relevance,” the researchers wrote. “These data may not only prevent screen-detected CRC patients from being discouraged by unfavorable survival estimates commonly available for all patients regardless of mode of detection, but also encourage the general eligible population to make use of available screening options.”


Cardoso R, Guo F, Heisser T, et al. Overall and stage-specific survival of patients with screen-detected colorectal cancer in European countries: A population-based study in 9 countries. Lancet Reg Health – Eur. Published online July 6, 2022. doi:10.1016/j.lanepe.2022.100458