Comparison of tests for fecal lactoferrin and fecal occult blood for colorectal diseases: a prospective pilot study

Intern Med. 2000 Oct;39(10):778-82. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.39.778.


Objective: This prospective pilot study was conducted to compare the usefulness of measuring fecal lactoferrin (Lf) to that of fecal occult blood (FOB) test for detection of colorectal diseases.

Patients and methods: The subjects were 351 patients who underwent colonoscopy. A fecal sample was obtained on the day before colonoscopy. Fecal Lf was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The FOB test was performed by combined assay (latex agglutination) of hemoglobin and transferrin.

Results: The specificities of the fecal Lf and FOB tests were the same (88.7%). For patients with colorectal cancer (13), colorectal polyp (69), ulcerative colitis (18), Crohn's disease (13), non-specific colitis (8), internal hemorrhoids (60), colon diverticulum (27), and miscellaneous diseases of the colon (10), the rates of positivity for fecal Lf were 7/13, 14/69, 12/18, 7/13, 4/8, 22/60, 8/27, and 6/10, respectively. The corresponding rates for FOB were 8/13, 12/69, 11/18, 4/13, 4/8, 9/60, 2/27, and 1/10. For patients with internal hemorrhoids, the rate of positivity for fecal Lf was significantly higher than that for FOB. In other disease groups, there was no significant difference in the rate of positivity between fecal Lf and FOB.

Conclusion: These findings suggest that measurement of fecal Lf is as useful as FOB in detecting colorectal diseases.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colonic Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Colonoscopy
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Hemoglobins / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lactoferrin / analysis*
  • Occult Blood*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rectal Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Transferrin / analysis


  • Hemoglobins
  • Transferrin
  • Lactoferrin