Using fecal immunochemical test values below conventional cut-off to individualize colorectal cancer screening

Eva Plantener, Ulrik Deding, Jeppe Buur Madsen, Rasmus Kroijer, Jonna Skov Madsen, Gunnar Baatrup

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Background and study aims  Of the participants in the Danish screening program, 89.9 % to 92.5 % have fecal immunochemical test (FIT) values < 10 μg/g feces (equivalent to 50 ng hemoglobin/mL buffer). This study aimed to investigate the risk of interval colorectal cancer (CRC) in this group before the next biennial screening round. Patients and methods  This cohort study included all citizens from the region of Southern Denmark who participated in the Danish bowel screening program from 2014 trough 2016 and had a FIT value < 10 μg/g feces. Individuals receiving a CRC diagnosis were identified through the national CRC registry, with a follow up of 2 years corresponding to the current screening interval. We also examined the 3-year CRC incidence. Hazard ratios (HRs) were estimated using univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard regression models. Results  Data from 185,654 citizens presenting with a FIT value < 10 μg/g feces were eligible for analysis. Overall, interval CRC incidence was 0.07 % within 2 years with HRs of 4.16 (95 % confidence interval [CI] 2.67;6.48) and 5.8 (95 % CI 3.34;10.05) for FIT values of 4 to 6.9 μg/g feces and 7 to 9.9 μg/g feces, respectively, compared to those having a FIT value below the limit of quantification of 4 μg/g feces. After 3 years, the overall CRC incidence increased to 0.14 %; however, this was not significant. Conclusions  This study demonstrates a positive correlation between FIT value and risk of interval cancer even for very low values. It further suggests that an increase in the screening interval could be reasonable in the low FIT categories.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEndoscopy International Open
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)E413-E419
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


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