Deprivation and faecal haemoglobin: implications for bowel cancer screening

J Med Screen. 2014 Jun;21(2):95-7. doi: 10.1177/0969141314535388. Epub 2014 May 6.


Objective: To investigate the relationship between deprivation and faecal haemoglobin concentration (f-Hb).

Setting: Scottish Bowel Screening Programme.

Methods: A total of 66725 men and women, aged 50 to 74, were invited to provide a single sample for a faecal immunochemical test. Deprivation was estimated using the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation quintiles: f-Hb was measured (OC-Sensor, Eiken, Japan) on 38439 participants. The relationship between deprivation quintiles and f-Hb was examined.

Results: Median age was 60 years, 53.6% women, with 14.1%, 19.7%, 17.7%, 25.9% and 22.6% in the lowest to the highest deprivation quintiles respectively. No detectable f-Hb was found in 51.9%, ranging from 45.5% in the most deprived up to 56.5% in the least deprived. As deprivation increased, f-Hb increased (p < 0.0001). This trend remained controlling for sex and age (p < 0.001). Participants in the most deprived quintile were more likely to have a f-Hb above a cut-off of 80 µg Hb/g faeces compared with the least deprived, independent of sex and age (adjusted odds ratio 1.70, 95% confidence interval: 1.37 to 2.11).

Conclusions: Deprivation and f-Hb are related. This has important implications for selection of cut-off f-Hb for screening programmes, and supports the inclusion of deprivation in risk-scoring systems.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; deprivation; faecal haemoglobin; faecal immunochemical test; screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Hemoglobins / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Scotland / epidemiology
  • Socioeconomic Factors


  • Hemoglobins