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Aust N Z J Public Health. 2005 Aug;29(4):358-64.

Guaiac versus immunochemical tests: faecal occult blood test screening for colorectal cancer in a rural community.

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School of Public Health and Centre for Health Research, Qld University of Technology, Queensland.



To describe patient participation and clinical performance in a colorectal cancer (CRC) screening program utilising faecal occult blood test (FOBT).


A community-based intervention was conducted in a small, rural community in north Queensland, 2000/01. One of two FOBT kits--guaiac (Hemoccult-II) or immunochemical (!nform)--was assigned by general practice and mailed to participants (3,358 patients aged 50-74 years listed with the local practices).


Overall participation in FOBT screening was 36.3%. Participation was higher with the immunochemical kit than the guaiac kit (OR=1.9, 95% CI 1.6-2.2). Women were more likely to comply with testing than men (OR=1.4, 95% CI 1.2-1.7), and people in their 60s were less likely to participate than those 70-74 years (OR=0.8, 95% CI 0.6-0.9). The positivity rate was higher for the immunochemical (9.5%) than the guaiac (3.9%) test (chi2=9.2, p=0.002), with positive predictive values for cancer or adenoma of advanced pathology of 37.8% (95% CI 28.1-48.6) for !nform and 40.0% (95% CI 16.8-68.7) for Hemoccult-II. Colonoscopy follow-up was 94.8% with a medical complication rate of 2-3%.


An immunochemical FOBT enhanced participation. Higher positivity rates for this kit did not translate into higher false-positive rates, and both test types resulted in a high yield of neoplasia.


In addition to type of FOBT, the ultimate success of a population-based screening program for CRC using FOBT will depend on appropriate education of health professionals and the public as well as significant investment in medical infrastructure for colonoscopy follow-up.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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