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What is the FIT test for colon cancer?

Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a test looking for blood in stool as a sign of colorectal cancer. FIT is a simple, affordable, non-invasive test that can be done at home. FIT test results tend to be more accurate than other tests. Although colon cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, it can be cured if found early. Early treatment dramatically increases a patient’s chance of survival.

At what age should screening for colorectal cancer start?

The American Cancer Society recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 45 and continue until the age of 75 years. If you are older, ask your doctor if you should be screened.

What is the benefit of the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)?

Fecal Immunochemical Test is beneficial for the following reasons:

  • It is easy to use.
  • It can be done in the privacy of a home.
  • It is non-invasive.
  • It requires no dietary restrictions.
  • It does not require any bowel prep to empty the colon before completing the screening.  

How do you prepare for the FIT Tests?

No preparation is needed for fecal immunochemical test (FIT). In addition, there are no dietary restrictions. To perform the test, follow the instructions on the sample collection kit provided. Simply collect the sample as instructed and return it to your doctor or laboratory within 48 hours.

When should I not use FIT?

You should not use FIT if the following events occur:

  • If you have symptoms of colon cancer and blood is in your stool. If you see blood in your stool, stop the test and consult with your doctory right away.
  • If you are bleeding because of hemorrhoids or menstruation, or if you are passing blood in your urine, you can take the test 3 days after you have stopped bleeding. Active menstruation bleeding could give a false positive result.

Can toilet bowl deodorizers / fresheners / cleaners interfere with FIT?

Yes. It is important to remove any deodorizers / fresheners / cleaners from the toilet bowl and flush the toilet at least two times before performing a FIT. Doing this is necessary because deodorizers / fresheners / cleaners may reduce the sensitivity of the test.

Should I collect samples for FIT from loose or hard stool?

You can collect the sample from a loose or hard stool. However, if the loose stool was caused by a virus like food poisoning, take the test when you feel better.

How often will I need to complete a FIT screening?

A FIT should be done every year in people ages 45 to 74 who are average risk for colorectal cancer. If someone's FIT result is abnormal, a colonoscopy should be done as a follow-up screening.

What are the other alternatives to colonoscopy?

Alternatives to a colonoscopy include high-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT) and Stool DNA test (FIT-DNA). They are affordable and can be done in the privacy of your home.

  • High-sensitivity fecal occult blood tests (FOBT): FOBT checks for tiny amounts of blood in the stool that cannot be seen visually. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two types of FOBT to screen for colorectal cancer: guaiac FOBT (gFOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT). The at home screening kit you received in the mail is a FIT. In these tests, stool samples are collected by yourself using a kit, and the samples are returned to the doctor.
  • Stool DNA test (FIT-DNA): Stool DNA tests, like Cologuard, are also approved by the FDA and can be done at home. Like FIT, Cologuard is a multi-target test that finds tiny amounts of blood in the stool. It also finds nine DNA biomarkers in three genes found in colorectal cancer and pre-cancerous advanced adenomas (tumors/polyps).

How long do I have to wait for my Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) results?

It will take 2-3 weeks for your primary care doctor to receive the test results of the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) after you mail back your sample. Please check your MyCarle account for test results. If the test is abnormal, your primary care doctor will refer you to the Digestive Health Institute to have a colonoscopy.

What do I do if I have a positive FIT result?

If the result of your FIT is positive, more testing and evaluation are necessary. Your primary care doctor will refer you to the Digestive Health Institute to have a follow-up colonoscopy screening.

What can I do to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer?

Doing certain things may help lower the risk, such as changing the risk factors that can be controlled.

  • Get yourself screened: Screening is the best way to protect yourself from the disease. Screening helps finding colorectal cancer at an early stage and it's easier to treat.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Overweight or obese people are at a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. More belly fat has also been linked to this disease. Staying healthy and avoiding weight gain may help lower the risk.
  • Be physically active: Increasing the intensity and amount of physical activity may help lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Keep a healthy diet: Limit your consumption of red and processed meats and eat more vegetables and fruits to help lower your risk.
  • Avoid excess alcohol: Studies have found a higher risk of developing colorectal cancer with high alcohol intake, especially with men. To help lower your risk, limit how much alcohol you drink.

How is the FIT test different from other fecal occult blood tests (FOBT)?

Both Fecal Immunochemical Testing (FIT) and Fecal Occult Blood Tests (FOBT) are tests used to find the presence of blood in the stool, as an early sign of colorectal cancer. The difference between the two tests is:

  • FOBT uses a chemical indicator that shows a color change in the presence of blood, however FIT uses antibodies directed against human hemoglobin to detect blood in the stool. FIT is considered a more accurate way to screen for blood in the stools as it only detects human blood from the lower intestines.
  • FOBT requires dietary and medication restrictions but FIT does not require any dietary or medication restrictions.
  • Multiple stool samples are required for FOBT results, but for FIT, only a single stool sample is required.

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.