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Gastroenterol Clin North Am. 1997 Mar;26(1):41-55.

Fecal occult blood testing for colorectal cancer. Can we afford to do this?

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Mayo Medical School, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.


Fecal blood is an inherently insensitive and nonspecific marker for asymptomatic colorectal neoplasia. As such, use of fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) necessarily limits the effectiveness and efficiency of a screening application. FOBT screening may result in a modest reduction in colorectal cancer-specific mortality, but it alters neither colorectal cancer incidence nor overall mortality. Costs resulting from FOBT screening are substantial, and the extent to which screen-induced mortality offsets any benefits remains unknown. In the absence of a clearly demonstrated net benefit with FOBT screening, affordability of this expensive effort can be legitimately questioned.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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