Fecal Occult Blood Testing May Be Most Efficient Choice

Generally results in more life-years gained than colonoscopy; might be best choice if budget limited
By Beth Gilbert
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- Although colonoscopy is a more accurate colorectal cancer screening method, fecal occult blood testing is likely to result in more individuals getting screened and more life-years gained, suggesting it may be the best approach for programs with limited budgets, according to a study published online July 29 in Health Affairs.

Sujha Subramanian, Ph.D., of RTI International in Waltham, Mass., and colleagues developed a simulation model to evaluate the cost and effectiveness of screening with guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests (Hemoccult II and Hemoccult SENSA) and colonoscopy.

The researchers found that screening programs that used Hemoccult II fecal occult blood testing with repeat screening compliance of 60 percent would see more total life-years gained than a program using colonoscopy with 100 percent compliance. Screening programs that used Hemoccult SENSA fecal occult blood testing would experience a higher number of life-years gained at 40 percent compliance than would colonoscopy at 100 percent compliance. The researchers concluded that fecal occult blood testing might result in more efficient use of limited budgets.

"Although colonoscopy is currently emerging as the most frequently performed colorectal cancer screening test in the United States, in many instances it might not be the optimal choice, especially for programs with fixed budgets," the authors write.

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