At-home FIT tests: How they help you detect colon cancer without getting a colonoscopy first
When it comes to colorectal cancer, there is one statistic—a promising one—that stands out: 90% of patients survive beyond 5 years when colon cancer is caught early.
Early detection is the key to catching and treating colorectal cancer (CRC). The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone ages 45 to 75 get screened for CRC—further guidelines suggest that those age 75 and older should discuss with their primary care provider about whether or not they should be screened.
How does colorectal cancer develop and how is it screened?
Colorectal cancer develops from abnormal growths (called precancerous polyps) in your colon or rectum, and colonoscopy is one of several ways to detect these growths. While it is a direct way to discover an issue—and generally considered the “gold standard” for colon cancer screening-- colonoscopy is not the only available option.
Screening with at-home fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) is convenient and easier than ever. An at-home FIT test isn’t right for everyone. Read on to see if it is a screening option for you.
FITs detect hidden blood in stool
In a healthy digestive tract, there is no reason for blood to appear—when it does, it usually indicates a problem. If you do have precancerous polyps, when digested food passes through, it can agitate the polyps. This may cause bleeding. Furthermore, precancerous polyps may be present in the colon for many years and may not cause any obvious symptoms, especially in the beginning.
A FIT test is a noninvasive screening test designed to detect traces of blood in your stool that may be invisible to the naked eye. This test uses antibodies to search for blood that may be hidden in your stool. You can perform a FIT test comfortably in your own home before sending it back to the lab. A FIT is only recommended for people over 45 who are at average risk for colon cancer.
FITs are simple, affordable and more convenient than other screening options
A FIT requires no preparation or thick liquid drinks. Just follow the instructions provided with the kit, provide a stool sample and then either mail or return it to your physician or healthcare practitioner. If you use Labcorp OnDemand’s Colorectal Cancer At-Home Test, all you have to do is mail your completed kit back to Labcorp using a preaddressed and prepaid mailing label.
Labcorp’s FIT test is a highly sensitive test and doesn’t require a large stool sample like other home screening methods. With a negative result, you can be 99.8% certain that no precancerous or cancerous changes are taking place in your colon.
It is important to note that FITs need to be repeated once a year when used as a screening tool. If you ever spot visible blood in your stool, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
FIT tests help reveal vital health information about your colon health
Taken annually, a FIT test allows you to keep up with your digestive health, especially as you age. Though the risk of colon cancer increases as you get older, early detection puts you in control of your health.
FIT screening is not recommended for individuals who are already considered high risk for colon or rectal cancers. Learn your risks and speak with your healthcare provider if further testing is necessary.
At the end of the day, screening with a FIT test can help save lives and is the trusted, noninvasive initial test for yearly CRC screening for most people. Check out our list of other recommended routine, recommended screenings based on your age and gender to stay on top of your health.
Learn more about what you can do today to improve your health by visiting our Count On You site.