The BJC has published an article investigating the results of research to consider the diagnostic performance of faecal immunochemical tests (FIT) for patients with low risk symptoms of colorectal cancer (CRC) in primary care. The study was conducted during the last 6 months of 2018, and involved SCW’s Sarah Warren, Clinical Services Programme Lead: Care Navigation and Cancer, and Catherine Neck, Clinical Project Manager, as part of the research team.
The faecal immunochemical test (FIT) for haemoglobin measures the amount of haemoglobin in a faeces sample. Participating GPs were advised in the guidance that if faecal haemoglobin concentration (f-Hb) was ≥10 μg Hb/g faeces they should consider using an urgent referral for suspected cancer under the local secondary care provider’s arrangements. All healthcare providers in the south west region participated.
During the research phase 3890 patients aged ≥50 years presented in primary care with low-risk symptoms of colorectal cancer and had a FIT. A threshold of 10 μg Hb/g faeces defined a positive test.
The study evaluated a FIT used by general practitioners to triage patients with low-risk symptoms of possible CRC and estimated the diagnostic performance of FITs in this population. The outcome of the research showed that FIT performs well in the low-risk primary care population for this diagnostic purpose.
The outcome of this work and the joint approach between clinical and managerial leads from SCW, South West Cancer Alliances, University of Exeter, Providers and Commissioners has resulted in this test being made sustainably available to South West Primary Care and is embedded in lower GI cancer management pathways.
To read the full, recently published, findings and data analysis, take a look at the final research report.