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May 30, 1977

Mass Screening for Colorectal Cancer—A Negative Report

JAMA. 1977;237(22):2380. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03270490020009

To the Editor.—  Mass screening programs for the detection of asymptomatic colorectal cancer have been reported.1-3 These studies are based on the use of a stabilized guaiac test for detecting occult blood in the stool (Hemoccult) (HO). The specimens are prepared at home by the screenees and are sent in to be examined at a screening center. The test is simple, inexpensive, and aesthetically acceptable. The reports suggest that cases of occult colorectal cancer have been detected. The American Cancer Society is planning to support mass screening programs using the HO technique in some large metropolitan areas.We had the opportunity to use this method in the study of 2,500 women who were under observation as part of a breast cancer detection screening program. They ranged in age from 35 to 74 years, with a median age of 49 years. The women were each supplied with three specially prepared