Occult blood in faeces is associated with all-cause and non-colorectal cancer mortality

Gillian Libby, Callum Fraser, Francis Carey, David H. Brewster, Robert Steele (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
211 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: An association between detectable faecal haemoglobin (f-Hb) and both the risk of death from colorectal cancer (CRC) and all-cause mortality has been reported. We set out to confirm or refute this observation in a UK population and to explore the association between f-Hb, as indicated by a positive guaiac faecal occult blood test (gFOBT) result, and different causes of death. Design: All individuals (134 192) who participated in gFOBT screening in Tayside, Scotland between 29/03/2000 and 29/03/2016 were studied by linking their test result (positive or negative) with mortality data from the National Records of Scotland database and following to 30/03/2016. Results: Those with a positive test result (n=2714) had a higher risk of dying than those with a negative result, from CRC: HR 7.79 (95% CI 6.13 to 9.89), p<0.0001, (adjusted for, gender, age, deprivation quintile and medication that can cause bleeding) and all non-CRC causes: HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.45 to 1.73), p<0·0001.· In addition, f-Hb detectable by gFOBT was significantly associated with increased risk of dying from circulatory disease, respiratory disease, digestive diseases (excluding CRC), neuropsychological disease, blood and endocrine disease and non-CRC. Conclusion: The presence of detectable f-Hb is associated with increased risk of death from a wide range of causes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2116-2123
Number of pages8
Issue number12
Early online date16 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • all-cause mortality
  • colorectal cancer
  • faecal haemoglobin
  • faecal occult blood
  • screening
  • bleeding
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality
  • Male
  • Cause of Death
  • Drug Utilization/statistics & numerical data
  • Databases as Topic
  • Scotland/epidemiology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/mortality
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage/chemically induced
  • Female
  • Aged
  • Occult Blood
  • Risk Assessment/methods
  • Medical Record Linkage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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