At-home test can screen for colorectal cancer almost as good as a colonoscopy

  • A new study says that FIT tests can be as good an option to test for colorectal cancer as a colonoscopy.
  • A FIT test is recommended yearly as compared to colonoscopies that should be done every 10 years.
  • Though a FIT test has its advantages, if a patient gets a positive result, a colonoscopy needs to be done for follow-up testing.

What is FIT?

A Fecal Immunochemical Test, or FIT, is a screening test for colorectal cancer that you can do at the comfort of your own home. A new study finds that this can be as good an option as a colonoscopy. A FIT test determines if there is blood in a patient’s stool sample, even if it is not visible to the naked eye. The blood can point to the existence of a colon polyp or be an early sign of colorectal cancer.

The Study

The review, which compared data from 31 different studies, was published on February 25 in the Annals of Internal Medicine journal. The lead author was a gastroenterologist at the Indiana School of Medicine and Regenstrief Institute, Indianapolis, Dr. Thomas Imperiale.  The study compares the effectivity of FIT tests to colonoscopies. Fit tests were found to be able to have a sensitivity to identify 75%-80% of individuals who have the disease. On the other hand, colonoscopies have a 95% sensitivity.

At-Home Screening versus Colonoscopy

The big difference between the two tests is that a FIT test is done yearly, whereas the recommendation for a colonoscopy to detect colorectal cancer is once every 10 years. Other advantages of the FIT test is that it isn’t invasive or need you to go under sedation and doesn’t require advanced preparation.

Because FIT tests are done yearly, tumors or any signs to developing cancer can be detected early. However, if a patient’s FIT result is positive for blood in the stool, follow-up testing will need to be done in the form of a colonoscopy.

Bottomline: The best test can’t really be determined yet as this study didn’t include other methods or screening tests for colorectal cancer. Aside from that, comparing FIT to a colonoscopy would be like comparing apples and oranges- one test shows results yearly, while the other is taken once in a decade.


Source: Live Science

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