Fear of colonoscopy: Leading barriers in global colorectal cancer screening

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According to the WHO, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer worldwide, accounting for approximately 10% of all cancer cases and ranks as the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide.

By 2040, the burden of CRC is projected to increase to 3.2 million new cases and 1.6 million deaths per year representing a 66% and 71% rise in new cases and deaths respectively relative to 2020.

To better address the global burden of CRC and reduce its impact, BGI Genomics has launched the second edition of its global CRC awareness report, covering 1,938 respondents from Brazil (306), China (367), Poland (300), Saudi Arabia (300), Thailand (362), and Uruguay (303):

CRC Screening Gaps Vary Globally: Nearly half (49.3%) of global respondents have never undergone CRC screening, with the highest proportions in Saudi Arabia (62.0%) and Poland (61.0%). This highlights a significant gap in awareness and accessibility of screening programs, which are crucial in early cancer detection and prevention.


Preference for Faecal Testing Over Colonoscopy: Although colonoscopies are more recognised (33.4%), faecal tests at healthcare facilities are preferred (31.8%), reflecting a trend towards non-invasive methods.

Cost and Fear are Screening Barriers: Fear of colonoscopy (18.2%) and screening costs (17.7%) are major barriers to CRC screening, highlighting the need for affordable, less invasive testing options. In Uruguay, 54.1% prefer inexpensive options, while in China, 68.4% favour moderately priced tests.

Medical Advice and Family History Drive CRC Screening: Doctor’s recommendations are a major driver for CRC screening (30.5% globally), with Uruguay showing the highest adherence (44.1%). Additionally, those with a family history of CRC are more proactive in screening (64.5%), compared to the general population (35.0%). This points to the critical role of healthcare professionals and familial awareness in encouraging screening.

Prof. Varut Lohsiriwat from Mahidol University offers his insights to this report. He suggested: “The essence of effective cancer screening lies in the acceptance and adherence of the patient to the screening method. Doctors can explain the pros and cons of different screening methods within a brief period, usually 3 to 5 minutes. However, the decision ultimately rests with the patient. The best screening method is the one that the patient accepts and adheres to because that’s the method that will actually benefit them.”

Dr. Zhu Shida, BGI Genomics Deputy GM, notes: “While colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colorectal cancer detection, its application is limited by the need for significant medical resources and the time-intensive nature of the procedure. This makes it challenging to reach and benefit a broader range of patients, particularly in resource-constrained settings.”

Dr. Zhu added, “At BGI Genomics, we recognise that there is a gap and we focused our efforts on developing advanced molecular biology testing techniques to close the gap. The ultimate goal is to transform colorectal cancer from a life-threatening disease into a manageable condition through widespread, early screening and intervention.”

Source: BGI Genomics


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The ONA Editor curates oncology news, views and reviews from Australia and around the world for our readers. In aggregated content, original sources will be acknowledged in the article footer.

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