Diagnostic Accuracy of Fecal Immunochemical Test in Patients at Increased Risk for Colorectal Cancer: A Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Importance

The potential role of the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for screening patients at increased risk for colorectal cancer (CRC) has not yet been elucidated.

Objective

To assess the diagnostic accuracy of FIT for CRC or advanced neoplasia (AN) in asymptomatic patients at above-average risk.

Data Sources

MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, and gray literature sources through August 2016.

Study Selection

Diagnostic studies evaluating the accuracy of FIT for CRC or AN in patients with a personal or familial history of CRC using colonoscopy as the reference standard.

Data Extraction and Synthesis

Two authors (A.K. and P.P.) independently extracted data and evaluated study quality using the Quality Assessment of Diagnostic Accuracy Studies–2 tool, and evaluated the quality of the body of evidence by means of GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development, and Evaluation). Hierarchical models were used to synthesize available evidence.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The primary outcome was the diagnostic performance of FIT for detecting CRC or AN.

Results

We included 12 studies (6204 participants). Seven studies were deemed at high or unclear risk of bias. The average sensitivity of FIT for CRC was 93% (95% CI, 53%-99%), and the average specificity was 91% (95% CI, 89%-92%), yielding a positive likelihood ratio (LR+) of 10.30 (CI 7.7-13.9) and a negative likelihood ratio (LR−) of 0.08 (95% CI, 0.01-0.75) (GRADE: very low). The average sensitivity of FIT for AN was 48% (95% CI, 39%-57%); and the average specificity was 93% (95% CI, 91%-94%), yielding an LR+ of 6.55 (95% CI, 5.0-8.5) and an LR− of 0.57 (95% CI, 0.48-0.67) (GRADE: very low). Subgroup analyses indicated that FIT cutoff values between 15- and 25-μg/g feces provided the best combination of sensitivity and specificity for the diagnosis of CRC (93% and 94%, respectively). Quantitative and 1-sample FIT showed adequate test performance, but data on other FIT brands and multiple samples were insufficient.

Conclusions and Relevance

The FIT has high overall diagnostic accuracy for CRC but moderate accuracy for AN in patients at above-average personal or familial risk. Heterogeneity and wide confidence intervals limit the trustworthiness of our findings.

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