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Br J Cancer ; 124(7): 1231-1236, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1065853


BACKGROUND: The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) was introduced to triage patients with low-risk symptoms of possible colorectal cancer in English primary care in 2017, underpinned by little primary care evidence. METHODS: All healthcare providers in the South West of England (population 4 million) participated in this evaluation. 3890 patients aged ≥50 years presenting in primary care with low-risk symptoms of colorectal cancer had a FIT from 01/06/2018 to 31/12/2018. A threshold of 10 µg Hb/g faeces defined a positive test. RESULTS: Six hundred and eighteen (15.9%) patients tested positive; 458 (74.1%) had an urgent referral to specialist lower gastrointestinal (GI) services within three months. Forty-three were diagnosed with colorectal cancer within 12 months. 3272 tested negative; 324 (9.9%) had an urgent referral within three months. Eight were diagnosed with colorectal cancer within 12 months. Positive predictive value was 7.0% (95% CI 5.1-9.3%). Negative predictive value was 99.8% (CI 99.5-99.9%). Sensitivity was 84.3% (CI 71.4-93.0%), specificity 85.0% (CI 83.8-86.1%). The area under the ROC curve was 0.92 (CI 0.86-0.96). A threshold of 37 µg Hb/g faeces would identify patients with an individual 3% risk of cancer. CONCLUSIONS: FIT performs exceptionally well to triage patients with low-risk symptoms of colorectal cancer in primary care; a higher threshold may be appropriate in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis , Feces/chemistry , Occult Blood , Primary Health Care , Anemia, Iron-Deficiency/complications , Colorectal Neoplasms/complications , Colorectal Neoplasms/physiopathology , England , Female , Hemoglobins/analysis , Humans , Male , Middle Aged , Risk Factors , Sensitivity and Specificity , Weight Loss