Skip to content

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Colon Cancer Screening Test Called Inaccurate

Common Test Performed in Doctor's Office Often Misses Cancer, Researchers Say

In-Office Test Overused, Inaccurate continued...

However, the six-sample test fared much better and detected nearly 24% of these cancers and precancerous growths.

In the second study, researchers surveyed doctors and patients to see if they followed recommendations for colon cancer screening using FOBT.

More than 90% of the 1,147 primary care providers surveyed said they used FOBT at least once a month. One-third of those doctors said they used the test only in their office rather than giving their patients the six-sample at-home test.

Nearly a third of the doctors also said that if their patient had a positive result on an in-office FOBT, they would follow up by repeating the same test rather than referring the patient for colonoscopy, as recommended.

About one in four of the more than 11,000 adults over 50 reported having a fecal occult blood test, and about a third said they had the test in the doctor's office only. Less than half of those who had a positive result on an in-office FOBT said they had been for further testing with a colonoscopy.

Experts call the results of the studies a "shocker."

In an editorial that accompanies the study, Harold C. Sox, MD, editor of the journal, says, "These two studies discredit the office-based, single-sample screening test for occult blood while simultaneously showing that it is a common practice."

"Taken together, they send a strong message to primary care physicians to re-examine their colorectal cancer screening practices."

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D