Benefits, risks, and limitations of colorectal cancer screening with a fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Colon (also known as colorectal) cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the US. Screening can detect colorectal cancer early, when it is easier to treat.
For this screening, you will use our at-home kit to collect a small amount of poop (we’ll usually refer to it as stool) from a bowel movement. The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) looks for blood in the stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer.
FIT can be done at-home, when it’s convenient for you.
FIT may help to detect colorectal cancer early when it is typically easier to treat.
FIT does not require bowel prep nor pre-test diet or medication changes.
FIT can help you make informed decisions about additional colorectal cancer screening, such as a colonoscopy.
FIT can only tell you if you have blood in your stool, which can be a sign of colorectal cancer. If blood is found, additional diagnostic tests are necessary.
FIT cannot be used to remove colorectal polyps.
FIT cannot provide information about the aggressiveness of colorectal cancer.
FIT may not be the most appropriate test if you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or certain conditions
The FIT itself does not carry any risks. However, a positive FIT may result in additional testing and follow-up, such as a biopsy, which can have some risks.
Like any screening test, false negatives and false positives are possible. A false negative result may mean that you are living with colorectal cancer and not know it until your next screening. A false positive result may lead to additional tests, like a colonoscopy. A false positive result may be more likely to occur if you’re menstruating or have hemorrhoids. This may cause anxiety and distress.