New Fecal Blood Tests Allow Detection of Colorectal Cancer

Immunochemical fecal occult blood tests specifically identify patients with colorectal adenomas

TUESDAY, Feb. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Qualitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests may be a future option of colorectal cancer screening over the currently used and more limited guaiac-based tests, according to research published Feb. 3 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Sabrina Hundt, of the German Cancer Research Center in Heidelberg, Germany, and colleagues conducted a prospective screening study of 1,319 volunteers who were undergoing a screening colonoscopy. All participants were at average risk for colorectal cancer, and were evaluated during 2006-2007. Stool samples collected prior to bowel preparation were used in six independent qualitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests.

Of the participants, 31 percent were found to have an adenoma, and 10 percent an advanced adenoma, during colonoscopy, the researchers report. The performance of the six independent qualitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests was quite variable, and the lowest specificity was rated at 58.8 percent. However, the two tests that scored highest gave a 96.7 percent and 92.9 percent rate of specificity, and a 25.4 percent and 26.9 percent rate of sensitivity, the report indicates.

"Qualitative immunochemical fecal occult blood tests could be an option for future colorectal cancer screening," the authors write. "However, given the large differences in diagnostic performance among tests, careful evaluation of the different test variants is important."

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