Background: Guaiac-based faecal occult blood tests (g-FOBTs) are most commonly used in colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programmes. Faecal immunochemical tests (FITs) are thought to be superior.
Aim: To compare performance of a g-FOBT and a quantitative FIT for detection of CRCs and advanced adenomas in a colonoscopy-controlled population.
Methods: We assessed sensitivity and specificity of both FIT (OC-sensor) and g-FOBT (Hemoccult-II) prior to patients' scheduled colonoscopies.
Results: Of the 62 invasive cancers detected in 1821 individuals, g-FOBT was positive in 46 and FIT in 54 (74.2% vs. 87.1%, P = 0.02). Among 194 patients with advanced adenomas, g-FOBT was positive in 35 and FIT in 69 (18.0% vs. 35.6%, P < 0.001). Sensitivity for screen relevant tumours (197 advanced adenomas and 28 stage I or II cancers) was 23.0% for g-FOBT and 40.5% for FIT (P < 0.001). Specificity of g-FOBT compared to FIT for the detection of cancer was 95.7% vs. 91.0%, P < 0.001) and for advanced adenomas (97.4% vs. 94.2%, P < 0.001).
Conclusions: Faecal immunochemical test is more sensitive for CRC and advanced adenomas. Sensitivity of FIT for screen relevant tumours, early-stage cancers and advanced adenomas, is significantly higher. Specificity of g-FOBT is higher compared with FIT.