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New CaP study investigates the value of the faecal immunochemical test when detecting colorectal cancer in general practice

Most cases of colorectal cancer are diagnosed by the GP. One of the major challenges is that approximately half of the patients present with vague and non-specific symptoms which makes it difficult for the GP to detect the cancer in time. A stool test that reveals traces of blood can be a valuable diagnostic tool for detecting colorectal cancer in general practice. This is evident from the results of a new CaP study with researcher Jakob Søgaard Juul in the front.

Photo: Colourbox

Screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) and urgent referral in a Cancer Patient Pathway for patients who show clear symptoms of colorectal cancer are two important strategies in early diagnosis of CRC. However, most cases of CRC are discovered in general practice and half of these patients do not present symptoms that make the doctor suspect cancer.

The faecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is also used in screening for CRC, can be a valuable tool for the GP in the diagnostic of bowel cancer in patients with vague and non-specific symptoms. This appears from the results of a new CaP study. The research results have recently been published in the International Scientific Journal, the British Journal of Cancer.

The FIT test is a useful tool for detecting cancer in an early stage

In the trial, GPs in the Central Denmark Region were offered the opportunity to test for blood in the stool in patients with vague and non-specific symptoms. Of the 3.462 requested FITs, 16% turned out positive. Three months later, approximately 10% were diagnosed with colorectal cancer and 14% had another severe bowel diagnosis. That means that almost 25% were diagnosed with a bowel disease when the GP decided to use the FIT test and it was positive. By comparison, it is two to three times more than when the test is used for screening.

The results indicate that FIT test can be used as a diagnostic tool for colorectal cancer in general practice for low-risk patients. The study is the first to investigate the test specifically on this population and the researchers behind the study hope that this will be a steppingstone in the further research within this field.