Screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) is recommended in patients born between 1945 and 1965 ("baby boomers") in the United States. Because these patients are often screened for colorectal cancer, dual screening for HCV may enhance case identification. Our objectives were to assess the acceptability and yield of screening for HCV among patients undergoing screening for colorectal cancer.
Patients referred for a colonoscopy to screen for colorectal cancer completed an anonymous survey regarding the acceptability of screening for HCV, risk factors and prior testing. The impacts of demographics and risk factors for HCV on willingness to be screened were determined using logistic regression, and the stored sera of 483 patients who had undergone screening for colorectal cancer between February 2011 and August 2012 were tested for HCV antibodies.
Among 1012 survey respondents (median age 56 yr; 911 [90.0%] were baby boomers, 880 [87.0%] were white and 223 [22.0%] were born outside Canada), 123 patients (12.2%) reported prior testing for HCV. HCV was previously diagnosed in 9 of these patients (0.9%, representing 1.0% of the patients who were baby boomers): 5 (55.6% of those diagnosed) reported risk factors. Excluding patients diagnosed with HCV, 903 (90.0%) respondents indicated that they would consent to testing of blood or saliva for HCV. After adjusting for age, sex and status of immigration, patients who were white (odds ratio [OR] 3.38, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.81-6.32) and patients with risk factors (> 1 v. 0: OR 3.67, 95% CI 1.12-12.02) had a greater acceptance of screening. Among 483 patients screened for colorectal cancer, 3 were anti-HCV positive (0.6%, 95% CI 0.1%-1.8%), representing 0.8% (95% CI 0.2%-2.4%) of the patients who were baby boomers.
Acceptance of screening for HCV is high among patients undergoing screening for colorectal cancer in the Calgary area. However, the low prevalence of HCV suggests that the cost-effectiveness of birth-cohort screening in this population warrants evaluation.