Less Invasive Primary Treatment for Colorectal Cancer After Implementation of National Screening: A Nationwide Cohort Study


BACKGROUND: The effect of organized colorectal cancer (CRC) screening on type of primary treatment remains sparsely investigated. This study evaluated the difference in primary treatment strategy between patients diagnosed with screen-detected (SD-CRC) and non-screen-detected colorectal cancer (NSD-CRC) in a national CRC screening program.

METHODS: This was a retrospective national register-based cohort study. Data on patients aged between 50 and 75 years and diagnosed with SD-CRC or NSD-CRC were retrieved from the national colorectal cancer screening database and the Danish Colorectal Cancer Group database. Outcomes related to surgical invasiveness were compared between the two cohorts. Differences were expressed as relative risks using log-binomial generalized linear regression models. UICC stage IV specific outcomes were analyzed using the same method. All analyses were adjusted for sex, age, type of cancer (colonic/rectal), and Charlson comorbidity index.

RESULTS: The study included 4707 patients with SD-CRC and 7328 with NSD-CRC. Therapeutic flexible endoscopy (SD-CRC: n = 636 vs. NSD-CRC: n = 334, RR: 2.50, P < 0.001), (robotic-assisted) laparoscopic resection ((n = 616 vs. n = 773, RR: 1.27, P < 0.001), n = 2759 vs. n = 3471, RR: 1.11, P < 0.001), and radical resection (n = 3890 vs. n = 4834, RR: 1.02, P = 0.002) were significantly more frequent in the SD-CRC group. The rates of emergency priority (n = 32 vs. n = 562, RR: 0.09, P < 0.001), open surgery (n = 391 vs. n = 1410, RR: 0.53, P < 0.001), supplementary organ resection (n = 259 vs. n = 860, RR: 0.56, P < 0.001), and stoma formation (n = 526 vs. n = 1040, RR: 0.89, P = 0.007) were significantly lower in the SD-CRC group. The rate of patients undergoing surgery with UICC stage IV disease was significantly higher in the SD-CRC group (SD-CRC: n = 262, NSD-CRC: n = 994, RR: 1.43, P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: SD-CRC remained associated with less invasive primary surgical treatment following adjustment for potential healthy user bias. UICC stage IV disease may be less advanced in patients with SD-CRC.

Original languageEnglish
JournalWorld Journal of Surgery
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2877-2887
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023


  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Aged
  • Cohort Studies
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer/methods
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis


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