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The Capital Region of Denmark - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
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The optimal cut-off value in fit-based colorectal cancer screening: An observational study

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BACKGROUND: Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs using fecal immunochemical test (FIT) have to choose a cut-off value to decide which citizens to recall for colonoscopy. The evidence on the optimal cut-off value is sparse and based on studies with a low number of cancer cases.

METHODS: This observational study used data from the Danish Colorectal Cancer Screening Database. Sensitivity and specificity were estimated for various cut-off values based on a large number of cancers. Traditionally optimal cut-off values are found by weighting sensitivity and specificity equally. As this might result in too many unnecessary colonoscopies we also provide optimal cut-off values for different weighting of sensitivity and specificity/number of needed colonoscopies to detect one cancer.

RESULTS: Weighting sensitivity and specificity equally gives an optimal cut-off value of 45 ng Hb/ml. This, however, means making 24 colonoscopies to detect one cancer. Weighting sensitivity lower and for example, aiming at making about 16 colonoscopies to detect one cancer, gives an optimal cut-off value of 125 ng Hb/ml.

CONCLUSIONS: The optimal cut-off value in an FIT population-based screening program is 45 ng Hb/ml, when as traditionally sensitivity and specificity are weighted equally. If, however, 24 colonoscopies needed to detect one cancer is too huge a burden on the health care system and the participants, 80, 125, 175, and 350 ng Hb/ml are optimal cut-off values when only 19/16/14/10 colonoscopies are accepted to find one cancer.

Original languageEnglish
JournalCancer Medicine
Volume10
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)1872-1879
Number of pages8
ISSN2045-7634
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

    Research areas

  • capacity building, colorectal neoplasms, mass screening, sensitivity, specificity

ID: 61989377