Real-Time Monitoring of Results During First Year of Dutch Colorectal Cancer Screening Program and Optimization by Altering Fecal Immunochemical Test Cut-Off Levels

Esther Toes-Zoutendijk*, Monique E. van Leerdam, Evelien Dekker, Frank van Hees, Corine Penning, Iris Nagtegaal, Miriam P. van der Meulen, Anneke J. van Vuuren, Ernst J. Kuipers, Johannes M. G. Bonfrer, Katharina Biermann, Maarten G. J. Thomeer, Harriet van Veldhuizen, Sonja Kroep, Marjolein van Ballegooijen, Gerrit A. Meijer, Harry J. de Koning, Manon C. W. Spaander, Dutch Natl Colorectal Canc Screeni, Ad MascleeIris Lansdorp-Vogelaar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


BACKGROUND & AIMS: After careful pilot studies and planning, the national screening program for colorectal cancer (CRC), with biennial fecal immunochemical tests (FITs), was initiated in The Netherlands in 2014. A national information system for real-time monitoring was developed to allow for timely evaluation. Data were collected from the first year of this screening program to determine the importance of planning and monitoring for optimal screening program performance. METHODS: The national information system of the CRC screening program kept track of the number of invitations sent in 2014, FIT kits returned, and colonoscopies performed. Age-adjusted rates of participation, the number of positive test results, and positive predictive values (PPVs) for advanced neoplasia were determined weekly, quarterly, and yearly. RESULTS: In 2014, there were 741,914 persons invited for FIT; of these, 529,056 (71.3%; 95% CI, 71.2%-71.4%) participated. A few months into the program, real-time monitoring showed that rates of participation and positive test results (10.6%; 95% CI, 10.5%-10.8%) were higher than predicted and the PPV was lower (42.1%; 95% CI, 41.3%-42.9%) than predicted based on pilot studies. To reduce the burden of unnecessary colonoscopies and alleviate colonoscopy capacity, the cut-off level for a positive FIT result was increased from 15 to 47 mu g Hb/g feces halfway through 2014. This adjustment decreased the percentage of positive test results to 6.7% (95% CI, 6.6%-6.8%) and increased the PPV to 49.1% (95% CI, 48.3%-49.9%). In total, the first year of the Dutch screening program resulted in the detection of 2483 cancers and 12,030 advanced adenomas. CONCLUSIONS: Close monitoring of the implementation of the Dutch national CRC screening program allowed for instant adjustment of the FIT cut-off levels to optimize program performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-775.e2
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


  • Colon Cancer
  • Population
  • Early Detection
  • Advanced Neoplasia
  • CARE


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