In a previous blog, we shared a recent study that showed the positive benefits of using FIT for people in their 40’s. Due to the steadily rising rate for colorectal cancer in those under 50, the authors felt recommending FIT screening to people between 40-49 years old could help identify higher risk individuals earlier for a follow-up colonoscopy. In turn, this could reduce cancer mortality in the younger population.
You may be wondering what exactly a FIT is or maybe you’ve heard of it and want to know more. So, we’ve put together a FIT Q&A to give you the information you need to know about this screening method and help you decided whether it may be a good option for you.
What do we know about FIT?
For starters, FIT is an abbreviation for fecal immunochemical test. This screening is used to find tiny amounts of blood hidden in the stool that may not be visible to the naked eye, which could be a sign of cancer or large polyps. This test reacts to a part of the human hemoglobin protein (found in red blood cells and is less likely to react to bleeding from other parts of the digestive system, such as the stomach).
How is FIT different from other colon cancer screenings out there?
FIT is less invasive and can appeal to people who want to get screened, but don’t want to prep for a colonoscopy screening. (A special diet or bowel preparation is not required for a successful FIT screening.)
Another bonus: you can take this test in the privacy of your own home! Your doctor provides you with a test kit that typically includes test cards, tubes, a collecting device, waste bags and a mailing envelope. It is important to follow the instructions that come with your test kit and to speak with your doctor if you have any questions. Once you’re done collecting your sample, simply return the kit as instructed and wait for the results from your doctor.
A positive result from a FIT screening should be followed up with a colonoscopy for a more thorough evaluation. There is a chance that the blood picked up by the FIT, which caused the positive result, could be caused by a non-cancerous condition, such as ulcers or hemorrhoids. You should complete stool tests like the FIT every year.
What does this mean for me?
In response to this article, young onset survivor and Colon Cancer Alliance Patient Advocate & Medical Advisor Dr. Laura Porter said, “The cost and accuracy of the FIT makes it a reasonable option for screening the under 50 population. Doctors still appear to be hesitant to recommend a colonoscopy for those under 50; if the FIT had been available when I was diagnosed at 43 in 2003, I believe that I would have received treatment sooner.”
Need more information about your screening options? Don’t know if you’re at a higher risk? Check out our Young and Brave page, created just for you!
Our monthly Young & Brave blog series brings you the information you need to know about the latest in young-onset colon cancer. Don’t forget, the Colon Cancer Alliance serves as a source of information about colon health. If you have questions or are in need of support, please contact our free Helpline at (877) 422-2030.