Article Text


PTH-141 Could upper GI Cancer Explain False Positive Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) Results in the Bowel Cancer Screening Programme?
  1. G M Clifford1,2,
  2. J Shenfine2,3,
  3. H Jaretzke3,
  4. C J Rees2,4,5
  1. 1South of Tyne Screening Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Gateshead
  2. 2Northern Region Endoscopy Group, Tyne & Wear
  3. 3Northern Oesophago-Gastric Unit, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne
  4. 4South of Tyne Screening Centre, South Tyneside District Hospital, South Shields
  5. 5School of Medicine Pharmacy & Health, Durham University, Durham, UK


Introduction The Bowel Cancer Screening Programme (BCSP) commenced in England in 2006 using the Hemoccult guaiac faecal occult blood test (FOBt). The study aimed to evaluate if significant numbers of upper GI cancers were being diagnosed in patients with a positive FOBt in the absence of colonic pathology.

Methods A quantitative data analysis of all BCSP patients with a negative colonoscopy cross referenced with all patients within screening age (60yrs > ) diagnosed with upper GI cancer in the North East of England, comprising of South of Tyne, North of Tyne, Teesside, Durham and Darlington.

Results Collectively the North East Bowel Cancer Screening centres carried out 5176 colonoscopies from 2008–2011, resulting in 1108 (21.4%) normal investigations.

In the same time period 589 patients were diagnosed with upper GI cancer. 243 were invited to participate in BCSP and 109 (45%) took part. 33/109 (30%) patients were diagnosed with upper GI cancer prior to submitting FOBt, leaving 76 (70%) presumably undiagnosed.

72/76 (94.8%) returned a negative FOBt, 2 (2.6%) returned an unclear subsequently followed by 2 negative FOBt kits according to BCSP practise, leaving 2 (2.6%) patients with a positive FOBt who subsequently had a normal colonoscopy. At the time of screening both patients were symptomatic with upper GI symptoms, and diagnosed with upper GI cancer within 3 months of screening.

Conclusion These data suggest that carrying out an upper GI investigation in FOBt positive and colonoscopy negative patients is not justified. Consideration to investigate maybe given in the presence of upper GI symptoms; however, further work is needed to evaluate the prevalence of upper GI symptoms in this population.

Disclosure of Interest None Declared.

Statistics from

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.