Self-testing for cancer: a community survey

Sue Wilson, Angela V. Ryan, Sheila M. Greenfield, Sue C. Clifford, Roger L. Holder, Helen M. Pattison, David A. Fitzmaurice, Richard J. McManus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cancer-related self-tests are currently available to buy in pharmacies or over the internet, including tests for faecal occult blood, PSA and haematuria. Self-tests have potential benefits (e.g. convenience) but there are also potential harms (e.g. delays in seeking treatment). The extent of cancer-related self-test use in the UK is not known. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of cancer-related self-test use. Methods: Adults (n = 5,545) in the West Midlands were sent a questionnaire that collected socio-demographic information and data regarding previous and potential future use of 18 different self-tests. Prevalence rates were directly standardised to the England population. The postcode based Index of Multiple Deprivation 2004 was used as aproxy measure of deprivation. Results: 2,925 (54%) usable questionnaires were returned. 1.2% (95% CI 0.83% to 1.66%) of responders reported having used a cancer related self test kit and a further 36% reported that they would consider using one in the future. Logistic regression analyses suggest that increasing age, deprivation category and employment status were associated with cancer-related self-test kit use. Conclusion: We conclude that one in 100 of the adult population have used a cancer-related self-test kit and over a third would consider using one in the future. Self-test kit use could alter perceptions of risk, cause psychological morbidity and impact on the demand for healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102
Pages (from-to)102
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number102
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2008

Bibliographical note

© 2008 Wilson et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


  • Cancer
  • self-test
  • faecal occult blood
  • PSA
  • haematuria
  • UK


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