Use of a faecal immunochemical test narrows current gaps in uptake for sex, age and deprivation in a bowel cancer screening programme

J Med Screen. 2013 Jun;20(2):80-5. doi: 10.1177/0969141313497197. Epub 2013 Jul 18.


Objectives: To investigate the characteristics of participants screened for bowel cancer using a faecal immunochemical test for haemoglobin (FIT).

Setting: Scottish Bowel Screening Programme.

Methods: 65909 men and women in two NHS Boards, aged 50 to 74, were invited to participate in an evaluation of FIT as a first-line test. Uptake was calculated by sex, age in quintiles, and deprivation in quintiles, and compared with a group who had completed a guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and for whom details of sex, age and deprivation were well documented.

Results: FIT kits from 38672 participants were tested. The overall uptake of 58.7% was significantly higher than the 53.9% for gFOBT (p < 0.0001). Uptakes in the two NHS Boards were 57.6% and 54.4% for men and 63.2% and 59.1% for women, higher than the 49.5% and 58.1% completing gFOBT. Uptake was higher for FIT than gFOBT in all age and deprivation quintiles for both men and women in both NHS Boards. The difference in uptake fell with age for men but rose for women; the increase in uptake was greater for men than women. Uptake fell as deprivation decreased for both sexes, and was similar in both NHS Boards.

Conclusions: Use of FIT increases uptake over gFOBT, and the greatest increases are seen in men, younger participants, and more deprived individuals, groups for which an increase in uptake is likely to be beneficial. The results support a move to FIT as a first-line screening test for those countries still using gFOBT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunochemistry / methods*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged


  • Hemoglobins