Ethical issues with colorectal cancer screening—a systematic review
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Evaluation In Clinical Practice. 2017, 23 (3), 631-641. 10.1111/jep.12690
Rationale, aims, and objectives Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening is widely recommended and implemented. However, sometimes CRC screening is not implemented despite good evidence, and some types of CRC screening are implemented despite lack of evidence. The objective of this article is to expose and elucidate relevant ethical issues in the literature on CRC screening that are important for open and transparent deliberation on CRC screening. Methods An axiological question-based method is used for exposing and elucidating ethical issues relevant in HTA. A literature search in MEDLINE, Embase, PsycINFO, PubMed Bioethics subset, ISI Web of Knowledge, Bioethics Literature Database (BELIT), Ethics in Medicine (ETHMED), SIBIL Base dati di bioetica, LEWI Bibliographic Database on Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities, and EUROETHICS identified 870 references of which 114 were found relevant according to title and abstract. The content of the included papers were subject to ethical analysis to highlight the ethical issues, concerns, and arguments. Results A wide range of important ethical issues were identified. The main benefits are reduced relative CRC mortality rate, and potentially incidence rate, but there is no evidence of reduced absolute mortality rate. Potential harms are bleeding, perforation, false test results, overdetection, overdiagnosis, overtreatment (including unnecessary removal of polyps), and (rarely) death. Other important issues are related to autonomy and informed choice equity, justice, medicalization, and expanding disease. Conclusion A series of important ethical issues have been identified and need to be addressed in open and transparent deliberation on CRC screening.