NYMC Faculty Publications

Performance Evaluation of Stool DNA Methylation Tests in Colorectal Cancer Screening: a Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Colorectal Disease : the official journal of the Association of Coloproctology of Great Britain and Ireland

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Second Department



AIM: There is not sufficient evidence about whether stool DNA methylation tests allow prioritizing patients to colonoscopy. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be a wait-list for rescheduling colonoscopies once the mitigation is lifted. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the accuracy of stool DNA methylation tests in detecting colorectal cancer.

METHODS: The PubMed, Cochrane Library and MEDLINE via Ovid were searched. Studies reporting the accuracy (Sackett phase 2 or 3) of stool DNA methylation tests to detect sporadic colorectal cancer were included. The DerSimonian-Laird method with random-effects model was utilized for meta-analysis.

RESULTS: Forty-six studies totaling 16 149 patients were included in the meta-analysis. The pooled sensitivity and specificity of all single genes and combinations was 62.7% (57.7%, 67.4%) and 91% (89.5%, 92.2%), respectively. Combinations of genes provided higher sensitivity compared to single genes (80.8% [75.1%, 85.4%] vs. 57.8% [52.3%, 63.1%]) with no significant decrease in specificity (87.8% [84.1%, 90.7%] vs. 92.1% [90.4%, 93.5%]). The most accurate single gene was found to be SDC2 with a sensitivity of 83.1% (72.6%, 90.2%) and a specificity of 91.2% (88.6%, 93.2%).

CONCLUSIONS: Stool DNA methylation tests have high specificity (92%) with relatively lower sensitivity (81%). Combining genes increases sensitivity compared to single gene tests. The single most accurate gene is SDC2, which should be considered for further research.