Sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictivity of the Hemoccult test in screening for colorectal cancers. The University of Minnesota's Colon Cancer Control Study

Gastroenterology. 1989 Sep;97(3):597-600. doi: 10.1016/0016-5085(89)90629-x.


Data are presented on the sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictivity of the Hemoccult test based on the experience of the Minnesota Colon Cancer Control Study, a randomized clinical trial to determine whether the use of the Hemoccult test can reduce mortality from colorectal cancer. Rehydrating the slides with a drop of water before processing resulted in an increase in positivity (2.4% to 9.8%), and sensitivity (80.8% to 92.2%) but a decrease in specificity (97.7% to 90.4%) and positive predictivity (5.6% to 2.2%). The effects of age and sex were also evaluated. The test was less specific for men than women (p = 0.03). Specificity was highest for those less than 60 yr of age and decreased with increasing age (p = 0.05). The positive predictivity increased with age from 1.6% for those under 60 yr to 3.6% for those over 70 yr (p = 0.0004).

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • False Negative Reactions
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / standards*
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Occult Blood*
  • Random Allocation
  • Sex Factors