Comparison of guaiac and immunological fecal occult blood tests in colorectal cancer screening: the patient perspective

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2010 Nov;45(11):1345-9. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2010.497937. Epub 2010 Jun 21.


Objective: Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs can decide upon the type of fecal occult blood test (FOBT): the guaiac FOBT (g-FOBT) or the immunological FOBT (i-FOBT). The effectiveness of any screening program depends not only on the diagnostic performance of the screening test but also on the compliance and general acceptance of the test by the public. Any decision on the type of FOBT for CRC screening should also take acceptation and perception into account. The aim of the present study was to study differences in patient perception between i-FOBT and g-FOBT and differences in perception and participation rates among relevant subgroups in a population based study.

Material and methods: Differences in patient perception of i-FOBT and g-FOBT and differences in perception and participation rates among relevant subgroups were investigated (n = 20,623) by sending a short questionnaire to all invited to the first Dutch CRC screening trial.

Results: i-FOBT was perceived significantly more favorable than g-FOBT. About 1275 (32%) participants reported the g-FOBT not easy to use, not easy to perform, disgusting or shameful compared to 742 (16%) for the i-FOBT (p < 0.001). The participation rate was significantly higher in those who received i-FOBT compared to the g-FOBT group: 6159 of 10,322 (60%) versus 4839 of 10,301 (47%) (p < 0.001).

Conclusions: These findings support the selection of i-FOBT as the more appropriate test for population screening programs.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Colonoscopy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Guaiac / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Tests
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occult Blood*
  • Patient Compliance*
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sex Distribution
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Guaiac

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN57917442