People more likely to attend cancer screening close to Christmas and birthdays

Dec 18, 2008

Cancer screening programmes could increase attendance by inviting people for screening close to birthdays or other annual milestones such as Christmas and the New Year, finds a study in the Christmas issue published on bmj.com today.

Colorectal cancer (bowel cancer) is the third most common cancer in the UK and the second leading cause of cancer deaths in Europe and the US. But despite the promotion of screening programmes in many western countries, attendance is generally low. Previous studies have identified barriers to attendance including anxiety and lack of knowledge about the test's risks and benefits, but the influence of age as a motivating factor, and the timing of invitations on screening attendance has never been tested.

Professor Geir Hoff and Michael Bretthauer from The Cancer Registry of Norway, examined whether tailoring the timing of colorectal cancer screening invitations to annual milestones such as birthdays, Christmas and the New Year, can improve attendance.

They randomly recruited 20,780 men and women aged 50-64 years from the population registry in Norway, and randomly assigned a screening appointment to them. The attendance rates for each week and month of assigned appointments were compared to participants' week/month of birthday. The overall attendance was 12,960 out of 20,003 (64.7%).

The researchers found that attendance rates were significantly higher in December compared to the rest of the year (72.3% versus 64.2%), and for individuals receiving their letter of invitation in the week of their birthday or assigned to screening 1-2 weeks after their birthday (67.9% versus 64.5%).

Age, being female, screening method, and geographical area of living were also independent predictors of attendance.

The authors suggest that invitation to screening close to the date of individuals' birthdays and to the month of December may improve attendance at screening programmes as well as its effectiveness for the prevention and early detection of disease.

Although the reasons for this are unknown, they may relate to annual reminders of ageing triggered by annual milestones such as birthdays and Christmas and the New Year, conclude the authors.

Source: British Medical Journal

Explore further: Blood and saliva tests help predict return of HPV-linked oral cancers

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Visual nudge improves accuracy of mammogram readings

Jan 26, 2012

In 2011 -- to the consternation of women everywhere -- a systematic review of randomized clinical trials showed that routine mammography was of little value to younger women at average or low risk of breast ...

Apple 'genius' Steve Jobs dies from cancer

Oct 06, 2011

Suddenly, the next version of the iPhone doesn't seem so important. It's time to mourn Steve Jobs, the Silicon Valley maestro who always seemed to hit the right note as he transformed Apple Inc. into technology's ...

In Jobs' second act with Apple, a dramatic revival

Aug 25, 2011

Steve Jobs' resignation as Apple Inc.'s CEO on Wednesday was freighted with sentimental significance, the curtain call on a dramatic 14-year performance in which he rescued one of the world's most beloved ...

Recommended for you

Pepper and halt: Spicy chemical may inhibit gut tumors

4 hours ago

Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that dietary capsaicin – the active ingredient in chili peppers – produces chronic activation of a receptor on cells lining ...

Expressive writing may help breast cancer survivors

5 hours ago

Writing down fears, emotions and the benefits of a cancer diagnosis may improve health outcomes for Asian-American breast cancer survivors, according to a study conducted by a researcher at the University of Houston (UH).

Taking the guesswork out of cancer therapy

11 hours ago

Researchers and doctors at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN), Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) have co-developed the first molecular test ...

Brain tumour cells found circulating in blood

12 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—German scientists have discovered rogue brain tumour cells in patient blood samples, challenging the idea that this type of cancer doesn't generally spread beyond the brain.

International charge on new radiation treatment for cancer

13 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Imagine a targeted radiation therapy for cancer that could pinpoint and blast away tumors more effectively than traditional methods, with fewer side effects and less damage to surrounding tissues and organs.

User comments : 0