A new stool test can further improve colorectal cancer screening

20 Jul 2021 09:00

A new stool test can further improve colorectal cancer screening

A new way to detect colorectal cancer can test not just for traces of blood in stool samples, but also for two additional proteins. This makes it possible to detect high-risk colorectal cancer precursors (advanced polyps). The goal of this test is to better prevent the development of colorectal cancer, and mortality as a result thereof.

Researchers at the Netherlands Cancer Institute, Amsterdam UMC, and Erasmus MC published their findings about this new test on July 20 in the leading scientific journal Annals of Internal Medicine.

The researchers compared this new test (mtFIT) to the test that is currently used in colorectal cancer population screening (FIT) by examining stool samples of nearly 1300 people. A trial set to start this fall will determine whether this test works better than the current one in practice as well: 13,000 participants of the colorectal cancer population screening program will be invited to use the new test in addition to the standard one. On the side of the participants, there is no difference in use between the two tests. 

The publication:

Willemijn de Klaver et al.,Clinical Validation of a Multitarget Fecal Immunochemical Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening. A Diagnostic Test Accuracy Study’, Annals of Internal Medicine 20-07-2021.

This research was financially supported by The Dutch Cancer Society, the Dutch Stomach, Liver and Bowel Foundation, Health-Holland*, and SU2C.

*The collaboration has been partially financed through a PPP allowance made available by Health~Holland, Top Sector Life Sciences & Health, to stimulate public-private partnerships.


The mtFIT compared to FIT:


·         Sensitivity for detecting colorectal cancer is comparable between both tests: approximately 80%.

·         Sensitivity for detecting advanced polyps (high-risk precursors): 38 % for mtFIT, and 28 % for FIT.

·         False positives: 3,4% for both mtFIT and FIT

·         Predicted reduction of colorectal cancer incidences: 12% compared to FIT.

·         Predicted reduction of mortality as a result of colorectal cancer: 8% compared to FIT.