Faecal immunochemical testing and blood tests for prioritization of urgent colorectal cancer referrals in symptomatic patients: a 2-year evaluation

J. A. Bailey, J. Weller, C. J. Chapman, A. Ford, K. Hardy, S. Oliver, J. R. Morling, J. A. Simpson, D. J. Humes, A. Banerjea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

BACKGROUND: A novel pathway incorporating faecal immunochemical testing (FIT) for rapid colorectal cancer diagnosis (RCCD) was introduced in 2017. This paper reports on the service evaluation after 2 years of pathway implementation. METHODS: The RCCD protocol was based on FIT, blood results and symptoms to stratify adult patients in primary care. Two-week-wait (2WW) investigation was indicated for patients with rectal bleeding, rectal mass and faecal haemoglobin (fHb) level of 10 µg Hb/g faeces or above or 4 µg Hb/g faeces or more in the presence of anaemia, low ferritin or thrombocytosis, in all other symptom groups. Patients with 100 µg Hb/g faeces or above had expedited investigation . A retrospective audit of colorectal cancer detected between 2017 and 2019 was conducted, fHb thresholds were reviewed and critically assessed for cancer diagnoses. RESULTS: In 2 years, 14788 FIT tests were dispatched with 13361 (90.4 per cent) completed returns. Overall, fHb was less than 4 µg Hb/g faeces in 9208 results (68.9 per cent), 4-9.9 µg Hb/g in 1583 (11.8 per cent), 10-99.9 µg Hb/g in 1850 (13.8 per cent) and 100 µg Hb/g faeces or above in 720 (5.4 per cent). During follow-up (median 10.4 months), 227 colorectal cancers were diagnosed. The cancer detection rate was 0.1 per cent in patients with fHb below 4 µg Hb/g faeces, 0.6 per cent in those with fHb 4-9.9 µg Hb/g faeces, 3.3 per cent for fHb 10-99.9 µg Hb/g faeces and 20.7 per cent for fHb 100 µg Hb/g faeces or above. The detection rate in the cohort with 10-19.9 µg Hb/g faeces was 1.4 per cent, below the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence threshold for urgent referral. The colorectal cancer rate in patients with fHb below 20 µg Hb/g faeces was less than 0.3 per cent. CONCLUSION: Use of FIT to "rule out" urgent referral from primary care misses a small number of cases. The threshold for referral may be adjusted with blood results to improve stratification .

Original languageEnglish
JournalBJS open
Volume5
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 5 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of BJS Society Ltd.

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Faecal immunochemical testing and blood tests for prioritization of urgent colorectal cancer referrals in symptomatic patients: a 2-year evaluation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this