Advances in Fecal Tests for Colorectal Cancer Screening
Colorectal cancer (CRC) forms an important public health problem, especially in developed countries. CRC screening tests can be used to identify asymptomatic individuals with CRC precursors and (early) cancer. Removal of these lesions reduces CRC incidence and prevents CRC-related mortality. There are a range of screening tests available, each with advantages and disadvantages. Stool screening tests can broadly be divided into fecal occult blood tests (FOBTs) and molecular biomarker test, such as DNA/RNA marker tests, protein markers, and fecal microbiome marker tests. Guaiac fecal occult blood tests (gFOBT) have been demonstrated in large randomized screening trials to reduce CRC mortality. Fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) have superior adherence, usability, and accuracy as compared to gFOBT. Advantage of the use of quantitative FITs in CRC screening programs is the cut-off level that can be adjusted. Molecular biomarker DNA tests have shown to detect significantly more cancers than FIT. By combining biomarker DNA tests with FIT, sensitivity for advanced adenomas can be increased significantly. However, it has lower specificity thus demands more colonoscopy resources, is more cumbersome, and costly. The adherence has not been assessed in population screening trials. For these reasons, FIT is therefore at present regarded as the preferred method of non-invasive CRC screening. This chapter will review the current status of fecal test-based CRC screening.