Fecal Immunochemical Test Screens for Colorectal Cancer

Sensitivity is superior to that of the unrehydrated guaiac fecal occult blood test

MONDAY, Oct. 1 (HealthDay News) -- The fecal immunochemical test may be an alternative to the widely used unrehydrated guaiac fecal occult blood test for detecting left-sided colon cancer, according to study findings published in the Oct. 3 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

James E. Allison, M.D., of the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Northern California Region in Oakland, and colleagues retrospectively studied 5,841 subjects at average risk for colorectal cancer, 139 of whom subsequently developed advanced colorectal cancer.

The researchers found that the sensitivity for detecting cancer was 81.8 percent for the fecal immunochemical test alone compared to 64.3 percent for the sensitive unrehydrated guaiac fecal occult test and a combination of both tests.

"The superior sensitivity for cancer demonstrated by a fecal immunochemical test has important implications for current and future screening program recommendations because a program of annual testing with the less sensitive unrehydrated guaiac fecal occult blood test and sigmoidoscopy every five years has been shown to be as effective -- regardless of cost -- as a program of colonoscopy screening at the individual patient level," the authors write.

This study was partially funded by Beckman Coulter, Inc. (formerly SmithKline Diagnostics) and Enterix Corporation.

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