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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010 Feb 15;31(4):523-33. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.04202.x. Epub 2009 Nov 19.

Can patients at high risk for significant colorectal neoplasms and having normal quantitative faecal occult blood test postpone elective colonoscopy?

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Department of Gastroenterology, Rabin Medical Center, Beilinson Hospital, Petach Tikva, Israel.



Common reasons for elective screening and surveillance colonoscopy, at predetermined intervals, are family or personal history of colorectal cancer (CRC) or advanced adenoma (AAP). Quantified, human haemoglobin (Hb)-specific, immunochemical faecal occult blood tests (I-FOBT) detect bleeding.


To determine I-FOBT sensitivity for CRC or AAP before elective colonoscopy in patients at high-risk of cancer or advanced adenoma.


Prospective double-blind study of 1000 ambulatory asymptomatic high-risk patients (555 family history of CRC, 445 surveillance for past neoplasm), who prepared three I-FOBTs before elective colonoscopy. I-FOBTs quantified as ngHb/mL of buffer by OC-MICRO instrument and results >or=50 ngHb/mL considered positive.


At colonoscopy, eight patients had CRC, 64 others had AAP. Sensitivity for CRC and/or AAP was the highest, 65.3% (95% CI 54.3, 76.3), when any of the three I-FOBTs was >or=50 ngHb (15.4%), with specificity of 87.5% (95% CI 86.4, 90.5) identifying all CRCs and 62% of AAPs.


All cancers or an AAP were detected every third I-FOBT-positive colonoscopy (47/154), so colonoscopy was potentially not needed at this time in 84.6% (846 patients). I-FOBT screening might provide effective supervision of high-risk patients, delaying unnecessary elective colonoscopies. This favourable evaluation needs confirmation and cost-benefit study by risk-group.

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