Comparing the effectiveness of competing tests for reducing colorectal cancer mortality: A network meta-analysis

B. Joseph Elmunzer, Amit G. Singal, Jeremy B. Sussman, Amar R. Deshpande, Daniel A. Sussman, Marisa L. Conte, Ben A. Dwamena, Mary A.M. Rogers, Philip S. Schoenfeld, John M. Inadomi, Sameer D. Saini, Akbar K. Waljee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Background: Comparative effectiveness data pertaining to competing colorectal cancer (CRC) screening tests do not exist but are necessary to guide clinical decision making and policy. Objective: To perform a comparative synthesis of clinical outcomes studies evaluating the effects of competing tests on CRC-related mortality. Design: Traditional and network meta-analyses. Two reviewers identified studies evaluating the effect of guaiac-based fecal occult blood testing (gFOBT), flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS), or colonoscopy on CRC-related mortality. Interventions: gFOBT, FS, colonoscopy. Main Outcome Measurements: Traditional meta-analysis was performed to produce pooled estimates of the effect of each modality on CRC mortality. Bayesian network meta-analysis (NMA) was performed to indirectly compare the effectiveness of screening modalities. Multiple sensitivity analyses were performed. Results: Traditional meta-analysis revealed that, compared with no intervention, colonoscopy reduced CRC-related mortality by 57% (relative risk [RR] 0.43; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.33-0.58), whereas FS reduced CRC-related mortality by 40% (RR 0.60; 95% CI, 0.45-0.78), and gFOBT reduced CRC-related mortality by 18% (RR 0.82; 95% CI, 0.76-0.88). NMA demonstrated nonsignificant trends favoring colonoscopy over FS (RR 0.71; 95% CI, 0.45-1.11) and FS over gFOBT (RR 0.74; 95% CI, 0.51-1.09) for reducing CRC-related deaths. NMAbased simulations, however, revealed that colonoscopy has a 94% probability of being the most effective test for reducing CRC mortality and a 99% probability of being most effective when the analysis is restricted to screening studies. Limitations: Randomized trials and observational studies were combined within the same analysis. Conclusion: Clinical outcomes studies demonstrate that gFOBT, FS, and colonoscopy are all effective in reducing CRC-related mortality. Network meta-analysis suggests that colonoscopy is the most effective test.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)700-709.e3
JournalGastrointestinal endoscopy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Gastroenterology


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