Biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer and polyps: systematic review.

Reena Shah, E Jones, V Vidart, Peter J.K Kuppen, JA Conti, NK Francis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing interest in early detection of colorectal cancer as current screening modalities lack compliance and specificity. This study systematically reviewed the literature to identify biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer and polyps. Literature searches were conducted for relevant papers since 2007. Human studies reporting on early detection of colorectal cancer and polyps using biomarkers were included. Methodologic quality was evaluated, and sensitivity, specificity, and the positive predictive value (PPV) were reported. The search strategy identified 3,348 abstracts. A total of 44 papers, examining 67 different tumor markers, were included. Overall sensitivities for colorectal cancer detection by fecal DNA markers ranged from 53% to 87%. Combining fecal DNA markers increased the sensitivity of colorectal cancer and adenoma detection. Canine scent detection had a sensitivity of detecting colorectal cancer of 99% and specificity of 97%. The PPV of immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) is 1.26%, compared with 0.31% for the current screening method of guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBT). A panel of serum protein biomarkers provides a sensitivity and specificity above 85% for all stages of colorectal cancer, and a PPV of 0.72%. Combinations of fecal and serum biomarkers produce higher sensitivities, specificities, and PPVs for early detection of colorectal cancer and adenomas. Further research is required to validate these biomarkers in a well-structured population-based study
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1712-1728
Number of pages17
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number9
Early online date8 Jul 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014
Externally publishedYes


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