Risk-Adapted Cutoffs in Colorectal Cancer Screening by Fecal Immunochemical Tests

Colorectal Cancer

Peng L, et al. Am J Gastroenterol 2020.


INTRODUCTION: Fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) for hemoglobin are increasingly used in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. The use of uniform positivity thresholds (cutoffs) within screening populations is expected to imply lower positive predictive values (PPVs) and higher numbers of colonoscopies needed (numbers needed to scope [NNSs]) to detect advanced neoplasms among screening participants at lower risk compared with those at higher risk. We aimed to assess such variation and its potential

implications in a large screening cohort.

METHODS: A quantitative FIT (FOB Gold; Sentinel Diagnostics, Milan, Italy) was conducted in fecal samples collected by 4,332 participants of screening colonoscopy before bowel preparation. Participants were classified into 3 risk groups (low, medium, and high) by tertiles of a previously derived risk-factor-based risk score. We determined the variation of PPVs and NNSs for detecting advanced neoplasms (i.e., CRC or advanced adenoma) when using the same FIT cutoffs and variation of FIT cutoffs that would yield uniform PPVs across risk groups.

RESULTS: When a fixed FIT cutoff of 10 μg/g was used, the PPV increased from 23.3% to 41.8% from the low- to the high-risk group, with NNS decreasing from 4.3 to 2.4 (P < 0.001). Similar variations of PPVs and NNSs across risk groups were observed at higher FIT cutoffs. When risk group-specific cutoffs were defined to achieve fixed PPVs of 25%, 30%, and 35% across all risk groups, cutoffs varied from 5.3 to 11.4, 6.5 to 18.7, and 7.5 to 31.0 μg hemoglobin/g feces, respectively, between high- and low-risk groups (P < 0.05 for all differences).

DISCUSSION: Using risk-adapted cutoffs may help to achieve target levels of PPV and NNS and might be an option to consider for personalized FIT-based CRC screening.