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Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) for Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is a significant health concern, especially as it often develops silently without noticeable symptoms. Regular screenings can be the key to early detection, and the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) offers a convenient method for many.

The Stark Reality of Colorectal Cancer

It's alarming to note that 1 in 21 men and 1 in 23 women will develop colorectal cancer in their lifetimes. This statistic underscores the importance of proactive measures and regular screenings.

Why Colorectal Cancer Screening is Essential

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or rectum, parts of our digestive system also known as the large bowel or large intestine. Some polyps, abnormal tissues that grow on the inner wall of the colon and rectum, can turn into cancer over time. Not all polyps are cancerous, but certain types can evolve into cancer if left unchecked.

In many regions, colorectal cancer ranks high among cancer-related deaths. The importance of screening cannot be overstated, as early detection can prevent or successfully treat up to 9 out of 10 cases.

What is the FIT Test?

The FIT is a home-based stool test that screens for colorectal cancer by detecting specific types of blood in the stool. This blood can be an indicator of cancer or precancerous polyps. However, it's crucial to understand that a positive FIT test doesn't diagnose cancer. Instead, it signals the need for further testing, often a colonoscopy, to determine the cause of the bleeding.

Who Should Consider the FIT Test?

The latest guidelines recommend colorectal cancer screenings for all men and women starting at age 45. Those considered at average risk for colon cancer are prime candidates for the FIT test. Factors that place you at average risk include:

  • No previous colonoscopy that detected cancerous or precancerous polyps.

  • No family history of colon cancer.

  • Absence of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes.

  • No personal history of inflammatory bowel diseases like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease.

  • No prior radiation treatments to the belly or pelvic area.

If you're unsure about your risk factors or whether the FIT test is suitable for you, it's always best to consult with your primary care doctor.

How Does the FIT Test Work?

The process is simple:

  1. Obtain a FIT kit. You can order one HERE

  2. Follow the provided instructions to collect a stool sample.

  3. Return the sample to the specified lab.

  4. Await your results, which typically arrive within a week or two.

A positive result indicates the presence of blood in the stool, prompting further investigation, usually a colonoscopy. It's essential to remember that a positive result doesn't necessarily mean cancer. Other conditions, such as intestinal infections or inflammatory bowel diseases, can also cause bleeding.

Accuracy and Insurance Coverage

While no test is 100% accurate, regular screenings with the FIT test can significantly increase the chances of early detection. There's a possibility of a "false negative" result, where a precancerous or cancerous polyp might be present but not detected by the test.

Most insurance providers cover the FIT test, but it's always a good idea to check with your provider about any coverage changes, especially as screening guidelines evolve.

Prioritizing Colorectal Cancer Screenings: A Lifesaving Decision

Colorectal cancer screenings save lives. Whether you opt for a FIT test or another screening method, the crucial aspect is to get screened. If you're uncertain about the best screening option for you, consult with your primary care doctor or local clinic. They can provide guidance on when and how to screen for colorectal cancer, ensuring you take the best steps for your health.


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