Performance evaluation of stool DNA methylation tests in colorectal cancer screening: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Mahir Gachabayov, Edward Lebovics, Aram Rojas, Daniel M. Felsenreich, Rifat Latifi, Roberto Bergamaschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1030-1042
Number of pages13
JournalColorectal Disease
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • COVID-19
  • DNA
  • colorectal cancer
  • genetic test
  • pandemic
  • screening
  • stool

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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