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Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume 24, Issue 2, Pages 113-120

Gastroscopy Following a Positive Fecal Occult Blood Test and Negative Colonoscopy: Systematic Review and Guideline

Johane Allard,1 Roxanne Cosby,2 M Elisabeth Del Giudice,3 E Jan Irvine,4 David Morgan,5 and Jill Tinmouth6

1Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Toronto, University Health Network – Toronto General Hospital, Toronto, Canada
2Cancer Care Ontario, Program in Evidence-Based Care and Department of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada
3Department of Community and Family Medicine, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Canada
4University of Toronto and Division of Gastroenterology, St Michael’s Hospital, Toronto, Canada
5Division of Gastroenterology, St Joseph’s Healthcare, Hamilton, Canada
6Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Received 27 April 2009; Accepted 30 May 2009

Copyright © 2010 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


BACKGROUND: A sizeable number of individuals who participate in population-based colorectal cancer (CRC) screening programs and have a positive fecal occult blood test (FOBT) do not have an identifiable lesion found at colonoscopy to account for their positive FOBT screen.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the evidence and provide recommendations regarding the use of routine esophagogastroduodenoscopy (EGD) to detect upper gastrointestinal (UGI) cancers in patients participating in a population-based CRC screening program who are FOBT positive and colonoscopy negative.

METHODS: A systematic review was used to develop the evidentiary base and to inform the evidence-based recommendations provided.

RESULTS: Nine studies identified a group of patients who were FOBT positive and colonoscopy negative. Three studies found no cases of UGI cancer. Four studies reported cases of UGI cancer; three found UGI cancer in 1% or less of the population studied, and one study found one case of UGI cancer that represented 7% of their small subgroup of FOBT-positive/colonoscopy-negative patients. Two studies did not provide outcome information that could be specifically related to the FOBT-positive/colonoscopy-negative subgroup.

CONCLUSION: The current body of evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine EGD as a means of detecting gastric or esophageal cancers for patients who are FOBT positive/colonoscopy negative, in a population-based CRC screening program. The decision to perform EGD should be individualized and based on clinical judgement.