Introduction Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 4th most common cause of cancer death worldwide. The efficacy of screening in reducing CRC mortality has been proven in RCTs. The EU recommends population-based screening with appropriate quality at each step in the screening process. Evidence-based, multidisciplinary European Guidelines for Quality Assurance in Colorectal Cancer Screening and Diagnosis have been developed by experts and will be published shortly by the European Commission. The EU Guidelines include a summary table of performance standards in CRC screening.
Methods A multidisciplinary, pan-European group of experts in implementation, evaluation and quality assurance of colorectal cancer screening led by an editorial board drafted and revised the guidelines outline and key clinical questions covering the entire screening process. An expert literature group provided additional scientific support in defining the questions, conducting the respective literature reviews and evaluating the evidence. The bibliographic searches (Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library) covered the years 2000–2008. In selected cases, references not identified by the above process were included in the evidence base, for example, relevant articles published after 2008 identified by the authors.
Results For 13 parameters sufficient evidence was found from published trials and the experience in implementation of population-based screening programmes to achieve consensus on recommended targets across the EU.
Conclusions Initial performance standards have been developed which are suitable for a pan-European setting. Programmes should monitor numerous additional parameters to maintain and continuously improve quality. All standards should be constantly reviewed and revised accordingly with regard to results achieved and best clinical practice.
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