The second round of the Dutch colorectal cancer screening program: Impact of an increased fecal immunochemical test cut-off level on yield of screening

Int J Cancer. 2020 Aug 15;147(4):1098-1106. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32839. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


The Dutch colorectal cancer (CRC) screening program started in 2014, inviting the target population biennially to perform a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). We obtained prospectively collected data from the national screening information-system to present the results of the second round (2016) and evaluate the impact of increasing the FIT cut-off halfway through the first round from 15 to 47 μg Hb/g feces on outcomes in the second round. Second round screening was done with a 47 μg Hb/g feces FIT cut-off. Participants were classified based on first round participation status as either FIT (15,47) or FIT (47,47) participants, and previous nonparticipants. In total, 348,891 (75.9%) out of 459,740 invitees participated in the second round. Participation rates were 93.4% among previous participants and 21.0% among previous non-participants. FIT(47,47) participants had a significantly higher detection rate of AN (15.3 vs. 10.4 per 1,000 participants) compared to FIT(15,47) participants in the second round, while their cumulative detection rate of AN over two rounds was significantly lower (45.6 vs. 52.6 per 1,000 participants). Our results showed that participation in the Dutch CRC screening program was consistently high and that second round detection rates depended on the first round FIT cut-off. The cumulative detection over two rounds was higher among FIT(15,47) participants. These findings suggest that a substantial part of, but not all the missed findings in the first round due to the increased FIT cut-off were detected in the subsequent round.

Keywords: colonoscopy; colorectal cancer; colorectal cancer screening; colorectal neoplasia; fecal immunochemical test.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Colonoscopy / methods
  • Colonoscopy / statistics & numerical data
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Early Detection of Cancer / methods*
  • Feces / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Netherlands / epidemiology
  • Occult Blood
  • Sensitivity and Specificity