To establish whether there was any difference in disease stage in patients with screening-detected colorectal cancer (CRC) in a Caribbean country.
The mode of presentation (elective vs. emergent), method of diagnosis (screening vs. symptomatic), and disease stage were retrospectively compared in all consecutive patients who had resections for CRC over a five-year period. Early CRC was defined as disease that could be completely resected with no involvement of adjacent organs, lymph nodes, or distant sites. Locally advanced CRC was disease that involved contiguous organs without distant metastases that was still amenable to curative resection.
There were 97 patients at a mean age of 64.9 ± 12.2 years treated for CRC, and only 21 (21.6%) had their diagnoses made through screening. Significantly more screening-detected lesions were early-stage CRCs (21.7% vs. 9.3%; p < 0.001). At the time of diagnosis, patients who did not have screening-detected lesions had a greater proportion of locally advanced (42.3% vs. 0) and metastatic (26.8% vs. 0) CRC. Those who did not have screening-detected lesions had a greater incidence of emergency presentations at diagnosis (26.8% vs. 0).
The incidence of screening-detected CRC in this Caribbean nation was low. Consequently, most patients presented with locally advanced or metastatic CRC, for which there is less opportunity to achieve a cure. Significantly more screening-detected lesions were early-stage CRCs. It is time for policymakers to develop a national CRC screening program.