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A workplace colorectal cancer screening program in firefighters: lessons learned.



Although colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is widely recommended, screening rates remain low. Workplace interventions have the potential to increase rates of screening.


To evaluate the impact of a workplace CRC screening program targeting active duty and retired firefighters.


A letter, a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) kit and a survey were mailed to all active duty and retired San Francisco firefighters aged 40 and older during 2008-09. The survey included questions about CRC risk factors and prior CRC screening tests. The primary outcome was return of the completed FIT.


FIT kits and surveys were sent to 1203 firefighters. In total, 445 individuals (37%) completed the survey, and 400 (33%) completed the FIT. Forty-five per cent of respondents had had a stool test for blood at some time, although few (8%) had had it within the past year. Thirty-six per cent of respondents said they had had a sigmoidoscopy at some time, although only 15% had had it within the past 5 years and 37% within the past 10 years. Among those aged 50 and older, 59% had had a test for colon cancer at some time.


A workplace intervention can increase CRC screening rates in firefighters. Future studies should focus on the long-term sustainability of this type of program.

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