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Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011 Oct;4(10):1563-71. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-11-0076. Epub 2011 Jul 12.

Test performance of immunologic fecal occult blood testing and sigmoidoscopy compared with primary colonoscopy screening for colorectal advanced adenomas.

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Division of Gastroenterology-Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Maastricht University Medical Center, the Netherlands.


Given the current increase in colorectal cancer screening, information on performance of screening tests is needed, especially in groups with a presumed lower test performance. We compared test performance of immunologic fecal occult blood testing (FIT) and pseudosigmoidoscopy with colonoscopy for detection of advanced adenomas in an average risk screening population. In addition, we explored the influence of gender, age, and location on test performance. FIT was collected prior to colonoscopy with a 50 ng/mL cutoff point. FIT results and complete colonoscopy findings were available from 329 subjects (mean age: 54.6 ± 3.7 years, 58.4% women). Advanced adenomas were detected in 38 (11.6%) of 329 subjects. Sensitivity for advanced adenomas of FIT and sigmoidoscopy were 15.8% (95% CI: 6.0-31.3) and 73.7% (95% CI: 56.9-86.6), respectively. No sensitivity improvement was obtained using the combination of sigmoidoscopy and FIT. Mean fecal hemoglobin in FIT positives was significantly lower for participants with only proximal adenomas versus those with distal ones (P = 0.008), for women versus men (P = 0.023), and for younger (<55 years) versus older (≥55 years) subjects (P = 0.029). Sensitivities of FIT were 0.0% (95% CI: 0.0-30.9) in subjects with only proximal versus 21.4% (95% CI: 8.3-41.0) in those with distal nonadvanced adenomas; 5.3% (95% CI: 0.0-26.0) in women versus 26.3% (95% CI: 9.2-51.2) in men; 9.5% (95% CI: 1.2-30.4) in younger versus 23.5% (95% CI: 6.8-49.9) in older subjects. Sigmoidoscopy had a significantly higher sensitivity for advanced adenomas than FIT. A single FIT showed very low sensitivity, especially in subjects with only proximal nonadvanced adenomas, in women, and in younger subjects. This points to the existence of "low" FIT performance in subgroups and the need for more tailored screening strategies.

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