Healthcare Policy and Outcomes

Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2092-2100

First online:

Colorectal Cancer Screening Among First-Degree Relatives of Colorectal Cancer Patients: Benefits and Barriers

  • Lloyd A. MackAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery and Oncology, University of Calgary Email author 
  • , Linda S. CookAffiliated withDepartment of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico
  • , Walley J. TempleAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery and Oncology, University of Calgary
  • , Linda E. CarlsonAffiliated withDepartment of Oncology, University of Calgary
  • , Robert J. HilsdenAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine and Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary
  • , Elizabeth Oddone PaolucciAffiliated withDepartment of Surgery, University of Calgary

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Individuals with a first-degree family history of colorectal cancer (CRC) are at increased risk of CRC. Study objectives were: (1) to estimate the proportion of first-degree relatives (FDR) of CRC patients being screened for CRC and (2) to identify predictors of screened behavior.


A questionnaire was mailed to 640 stage I–III CRC patients from a population-based registry to identify FDR. A survey was sent to 747 FDR, aged 40 or older, to assess CRC screening, knowledge, demographics, access, benefits, and barriers of CRC screening. Factor analysis was used to detect underlying constructs. Predictors of screening were explored by multivariate analysis (MVA).


There was a 54% and 51% response for patients and FDR, respectively. Among FDR, 86% were born in Canada, 94% spoke English, 93.5% had a high school education, 73% were married, and 55% were employed. The age distribution was: 40–44 years (19.7%), 45–49 (19.1%), 50–54 (16%), 55–59 (15.2%), 60–64 (9.8%), and >65 (18%). Seventy percent had undergone CRC screening with 60% adherent to current guidelines. Of those screened, 33.7% had fecal occult blood testing, 19.4% had barium enema, 10.7% had sigmoidoscopy, and 58.7% had colonoscopy. Five constructs influencing CRC screening include: salience and coherence, perceived susceptibility, response efficacy, social influence, and cancer worries. MVA determined age >50 years as the most important predictor of screening.


In this survey, 70% of FDR of CRC patients had undergone screening; age was the most important predictor. Understanding underlying constructs influencing screening behavior may improve uptake of CRC screening in this population.