In its first 4 1/2 years of operation in the Long Beach Community Hospital Cancer Detection Center, among the 5,595 persons examined, 16 cases of colorectal cancer were discovered. Fourteen of the 16 had symptoms referable to neoplasms. Eight had lesions found on proctosigmoidoscopic examination. Nine had positive findings for occult blood in stool samples, a 7.5% cancer detection rate among the 120 with positive stool sample findings. Six patients with cancer submitted one to four stool specimens that showed negative findings on occult blood testing, and one patient submitted no specimen. Although valuable in screening, stool testing for occult blood will not detect all colonic neoplasms. The complaints of pain, altered bowel habits, or tenesmus warrant sigmoidoscopic examination, barium enema studies, or both, whether findings in stool samples are positive or negative.
(JAMA 243:2056-2057, 1980)