Bowel screening: a mini literature review


  • Marwa Khattabi Qatar University Health Center, Primary Health Corporation, Qatar
  • Mai Alsammak Madinat Khalifa Health Center, Primary Healthcare Corporation, Qatar



Bowel cancer, Bowel screening, Colorectal cancer, Barriers, Health burden, Fecal occult blood


Bowel cancer is a global health issue with more than 500.000 yearly new cases and a 12.6% mortality of all cancer cases. Studies suggest the financial burden of bowel cancer in Europe in 2015 was estimated at 19.1 billion Euros. Effective bowel screening promotes prevention and early detection of bowel cancer. There is a variation in bowel screening uptake across the globe, trials and pilot studies in the UK suggest uptake is around 50-60% in the UK, compared to much lower uptake in lower income countries. This mini literature review aims to shed some light on the magnitude of the problem, global variations in screening uptake, barriers to bowel screening uptake and explore ways to improve bowel screening uptake. Personal beliefs, social taboo and lack of knowledge are some of the barriers identified in this review, healthcare professionals have a pivotal role in opportunistic health promotion and encouraging patients to utilize bowel screening services, furthermore health educational campaigns targeting school children, students and other groups in the wider community may help increase bowel cancer awareness and the importance of bowel screening. A national recall system for bowel screening is an important step in improving uptake in low-income countries who have not achieved such a service yet.


Ferlay J, Ervik M, Lam F, Laversanne M, Colombet M, Mery L, et al. Global Cancer Observatory: Cancer Today. Lyon, France: International Agency for Research on Cancer. Available at: Accessed on 16 May, 2024.

Keum N, Giovannucci E. Global burden of colorectal cancer: emerging trends, risk factors and prevention strategies. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2019;16(12):713-32

Torre LA, Bray F, Siegel RL, Ferlay J, Lortet-Tieulent J, Jemal A. Global cancer statistics, 2012. CA Cancer J Clin. 2015;65(2):87-108.

Global Burden of Disease Cancer Collaboration, Fitzmaurice C, Allen C, Barber RM, Barregard L, Bhutta ZA, et al. Global, Regional, and National Cancer Incidence, Mortality, Years of Life Lost, Years Lived with Disability, and Disability-Adjusted Life-years for 32 Cancer Groups, 1990 to 2015: A Systematic Analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. JAMA Oncol. 2017;3(4):524-48.

GBD 2015 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016;388:1459-544.

Al-Dahshan A, Chehab M, Bala M, Omer M, Al Mohamed O, Al-Kubaisi N, et al. Colorectal cancer awareness and its predictors among adults aged 50-74 years attending primary healthcare in the State of Qatar: a cross sectional study. BMJ Open. 2020;10(7):e035651.

GBD 2015 Mortality and Causes of Death Collaborators. Global, regional, and national life expectancy, all-cause mortality, and cause-specific mortality for 249 causes of death, 1980-2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015. Lancet. 2016;388(10053):1459-544.

Center MM, Jemal A, Ward E. International trends in colorectal cancer incidence rates. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2009;18(6):1688-94.

Migliore L, Migheli F, Spisni R, Coppedè F. Genetics, cytogenetics, and epigenetics of colorectal cancer. J Biomed Biotechnol. 2011;2011:792362.

Eddy DM, Screening for colorectal cancer. Ann Intern Med. 1990;113(5):373-84.

Davis DM, Marcet JE, Frattini JC, Prather AD, Mateka JJ, Nfonsam VN. Is it time to lower the recommended screening age for colorectal cancer? J Am Coll Surg. 2011;213(3):352-61.

Wong MC, Ding H, Wang J, Chan PS, Huang J. Prevalence and risk factors of colorectal cancer in Asia. Intest Res. 2019;17(3):317-29.

Parajuli R, Bjerkaas E, Tverdal A, Selmer R, Marchand LL, Weiderpass E, et al. The increased risk of colon cancer due to cigarette smoking may be greater in women than men. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2013;22(5):862-71.

Lewandowska A, Rudzki G, Lewandowski T, Stryjkowska-Góra A, Rudzki S. Title: Risk Factors for the Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Control. 2022;29:10732748211056692.

Otani T, Iwasaki M, Inoue M; Shoichiro Tsugane for the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study Group. Body mass index, body height, and subsequent risk of colorectal cancer in middle-aged and elderly Japanese men and women: Japan public health center-based prospective study. Cancer Causes Control. 2005;16(7):839-50.

Wong MCS, Chan CH, Lin J, Huang JLW, Huang J, Fang Y, et al. Lower relative contribution of positive family history to colorectal cancer risk with increasing age: a systematic review and meta-analysis of 9.28 million individuals. Am J Gastroenterol. 2018;113(12):1819-27.

Doubeni CA, Laiyemo AO, Major JM, Schootman M, Lian M, Park Y, et al. Socioeconomic status and the risk of colorectal cancer. Cancer. 2012;118(14):3636-44.

World Health Organization-Regional Office for Europe. A short guide to cancer screening - Increase effectiveness, maximize benefits and minimize harm. 2022. Available at: Accessed 23 Feb 2024. Young person and adult screening KPI data: Q4 summary factsheets. Available at: Accessed on 12 April, 2024.

Public Health Scotland. Scottish bowel screening programme statistics for the two-year period of invitations between May 2018 and March 2020. Available at: Accessed on 12 April, 2024.

Cardoso R, Guo F, Heisser T, Hoffmeister M, Brenner H. Utilisation of Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests in European Countries by Type of Screening Offer: Results from the European Health Interview Survey. Cancers (Basel). 2020;12(6):1409.

Campbell C, Douglas A, Williams L, Cezard G, Brewster DH, Buchanan D, et al. Are there ethnic and religious variations in uptake of bowel cancer screening? A retrospective cohort study among 1.7 million people in Scotland. BMJ Open. 2020;10:e037011.

Alduraywish SA, Altamimi LA, Almajed AA, Kokandi BA, Alqahtani RS, Alghaihb SG, et al. Barriers of colorectal cancer screening test among adults in the Saudi Population: A Cross-Sectional study. Prev Med Rep. 2020;20:101235.

Basch CH, Basch CE, Zybert P, Wolf RL. Fear as a Barrier to Asymptomatic Colonoscopy Screening in an Urban Minority Population with Health Insurance. J Community Health. 2016;41(4):818-24.

Nagelhout E, Comarell K, Samadder NJ, Wu YP. Barriers to Colorectal Cancer Screening in a Racially Diverse Population Served by a Safety-Net Clinic. J Community Health. 2017;42(4):791-6.

Azeem E, Gillani SW, Poh V, Syed Sulaiman SA, Baig MR. Barriers to colorectal cancer screening in Asia: A systematic review. Trop J Pharm Res. 2016;15:1543-8.

Muliira J, D’Souza M, Ahmed S. Contrasts in practices and perceived barriers to colorectal cancer screening by nurses and physicians working in primary care settings in Oman. J Cancer Educ. 2016;31(1):15-25.

Tan KK, Lopez V, Wong ML, Koh GC. Uncovering the barriers to undergoing screening among first degree relatives of colorectal cancer patients: a review of qualitative literature. J Gastrointest Oncol. 2018;9(3):579-88.

Benton SC, Butler P, Allen K, Chesters M, Rickard S, Stanley S, et al. GP participation in increasing uptake in a national bowel cancer screening programme: the PEARL project. Br J Cancer. 2017;116(12):1551-7.




How to Cite

Khattabi, M., & Alsammak, M. (2024). Bowel screening: a mini literature review. International Journal Of Community Medicine And Public Health, 11(6), 2444–2449.



Review Articles