A comparison of qualitative and quantitative fecal immunochemical tests in the Korean national colorectal cancer screening program

Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012 Apr;47(4):461-6. doi: 10.3109/00365521.2012.668930.


Objective: The National Cancer Screening Program (NCSP) has since 2004 provided annual colorectal cancer screening using the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for individuals aged 50 years or older. The aim of this study was to examine the positivity and detection rates of the FIT and to compare the detection rates of the qualitative and quantitative FITs in participants in the 2009 NCSP.

Methods: We analyzed positivity and detection rates according to FIT type (qualitative and quantitative). We used a multinomial logistic regression to analyze the odds ratio of "benign" or "suspicious cancer and cancer" compared to "normal," adjusted for gender, age, health insurance type, region of residence, hospital type, and FIT type.

Results: Of the 1,181,904 participants, 72.8% received a qualitative and 27.2% a quantitative FIT. The positivity rates were 8.1% for the qualitative and 2.5% for the quantitative FIT. The detection rate was 5.2% for the qualitative and 14.4% for the quantitative FIT. The odds ratio of a "suspicious cancer and cancer" versus a "normal" result was 2.73 (95% CI = 2.22-3.35) for the quantitative compared to qualitative FIT, after adjustment.

Conclusions: The positivity rate of the qualitative FIT was around three times higher than that of the quantitative FIT. However, the odds ratio for detection of "suspicious cancer and cancer" versus "normal" of the quantitative FIT was about three times higher than that of the qualitative FIT. These findings suggest that quality control may be important, particularly for the qualitative FIT.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay* / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • National Health Programs
  • Occult Blood*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Republic of Korea
  • Sensitivity and Specificity