Screening with fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) reduces colorectal cancer mortality. Failure to complete repeat tests may compromise screening effectiveness. We conducted a systematic review of repeat FOBT across diverse health care settings. We searched MEDLINE, Embase, and the Cochrane Library for studies published from 1997 to 2017 and reported repeat FOBT over ≥2 screening rounds. Studies (n = 27 reported in 35 articles) measured repeat FOBT as (i) proportion of Round 1 participants completing repeat FOBT in Round 2; (ii) proportion completing two, consecutive FOBT; or (iii) proportion completing ≥3 rounds. Among those who completed FOBT in Round 1, 24.6% to 89.6% completed repeat FOBT in Round 2 [median: 82.0%; interquartile range (IQR): 73.7%-84.6%]. The proportion completing FOBT in two rounds ranged from 16.4% to 80.0% (median: 46.6%; IQR: 40.5%-50.0%), and in studies examining ≥3 rounds, repeat FOBT ranged from 0.8% to 64.1% (median: 39.2%; IQR: 19.7%-49.4%). Repeat FOBT appeared higher in mailed outreach (69.1%-89.6%) compared with opportunistic screening (24.6%-48.6%). Few studies examined correlates of repeat FOBT. In summary, we observed a wide prevalence of repeat FOBT, and prevalence generally declined in successive screening rounds. Interventions that increase and maintain participation in FOBT are needed to optimize effectiveness of this screening strategy.
©2019 American Association for Cancer Research.