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

36 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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