Long-term follow-up of patients having false-positive multitarget stool DNA tests after negative screening colonoscopy: The long-haul cohort study

Thomas G. Cotter, Kelli N. Burger, Mary E. Devens, Julie A. Simonson, Kari L. Lowrie, Russell I. Heigh, Douglas W. Mahoney, David H. Johnson, David A. Ahlquist, John B Kisiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


Background: Studies of colorectal cancer screening by multitarget stool DNA (MT-sDNA) show false-positive (FP) rates of 7% to 13%. It is unclear whether FP patients are at increased long-term risk of adverse outcomes. Methods: We compared subsequent clinical events among patients with apparent FP MT-sDNA with those in patients reported as true negative (TN). This was a retrospective cohort study of participants in pre-FDA approval MT-sDNA studies having nonadvanced or negative baseline colonoscopy findings from a single referral center. Per-protocol and calibrated cutoffs defined FP and TN groups. From the time of stool collection, we measured differences between FP and TN groups in time to death, subsequent cancer diagnosis, and onset of alarm symptoms. Results: Of 1,050 eligible patients, only 6 were lost to followup. Median age was 65.6 years [interquartile range (IQR), 56.8-72.3]; 54% were female. Median follow-up time was 4 years (IQR, 3.5-5.3). Eight aerodigestive (lung and gastrointestinal tract) cancers occurred. FP status by calibrated, but not per-protocol, cutoffs was associated with subsequent aerodigestive cancer; however, cumulative incidence did not exceed SEER expectations from the general population. By any cutoff method, FP status was not associated with mortality or alarm symptoms. Conclusions: Although FP status was associated with longterm aerodigestive cancers, new cases were not temporally related and did not exceed incidence estimates from general population. Impact: These observations do not justify aggressive followup evaluation for patients with FP MT-sDNA at this time. Larger studies are needed to confirm these early findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)614-621
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology

Cite this