Why Consider This Test
Screening Save Lives
While colorectal cancer is the third-most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S., it's usually slow-growing in the early stages (it typically starts as a noncancerous polyp). That means that screening can find cancer while it's still curable.
Unfortunately, even fairly advanced colorectal cancers may not produce noticeable symptoms, making screening even more critical.
Age is the most important risk factor when it comes to developing colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that everyone ages 45-75 gets screened.
It is important to note that colonoscopies and other methods that visualize the colon are more likely to pick up cancers and find patients who are at increased risk of developing cancer in the future. During a colonoscopy, polyps can be removed and biopsied. FIT screening is not appropriate for individuals who are already considered high risk for colon cancer. If you are high risk, talk to your healthcare professional about the need for a colonoscopy.
Some individuals are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer due to a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. Those with genetic polyp syndromes (such as Familial Adenomatous Polyposis or Lynch syndrome) are especially at higher risk. If you have a family history of CRC, or other factors that increase your risk, talk to your health care provider about the timing and appropriate methods of CRC screening.
- Bleeding, especially from polyps and tumors, is intermittent, so blood is not always present in all stool samples. Repeat testing can increase the chances of determining if blood is present from a reoccurring problem.
- If you have an ongoing condition (such as diverticulitis or hemorrhoids) where blood can occasionally show up in the stool, this test may not be suitable for determining your risk of CRC. We encourage you to consult a doctor to discuss alternative forms of screening.
- Because FIT explicitly detects the presence of blood, women should not take this test during or at the anticipated time of menstruation, as it may interfere with the accuracy of results.
- The FIT is not a substitute for a colonoscopy if your physician recommends one.
- FIT should be repeated at least once a year when used as a screening tool for colorectal cancer screening.