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October 17, 1977

Hemoccult Test

JAMA. 1977;238(16):1720-1721. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280170014004

To the Editor.—  I would like to respond to a letter to the editor (237:2380,1977) regarding the usefulness of mass screening for colorectal cancer using a stabilized guaiac test for detecting occult blood in the stool (Hemoccult) (HO). Morton Goodman, MD, concludes that the HO test "was of no value in detecting early colorectal cancer in an symptomatic adult population." This is not substantiated by his study as reported. He assumes that at least some of his group of 1,701 women must have colon cancer; therefore, false-negative results were obtained. I would suggest that this assumption could only be substantiated by following the study group for at least two years, during which time some of the group must be found to have colon cancer. Otherwise, Dr Goodman's conclusion can only be that, fortunately, there were no cases of colon cancer in the group.We in Mercer County have followed our