PORTLAND -- If you’re looking for a way to avoid a colonoscopy when you turn 50, you might ask your Doctor if FIT is an option.
“It’s a take-home kit that can detect blood in the stool which can be a sign of colorectal cancer,” explained Kaiser Permanente researcher Dr. Elizabeth Liles.
She recently reviewed 19 studies looking at how effective the tests are.
“I looked at all brands and all types and found FIT picked up 4 out of 5 cancers,” Dr. Liles said.
While the colonoscopy requires a day off work and anesthesia, a FIT test requires a simple swab after a bowel movement which is mailed to a lab for analysis.
“People are so much more likely to do FIT and that’s really the main value of it. We just screen more people,” said Dr. Liles.
FIT is recommended for patients ages 50 and older once a year. A colonoscopy is recommended every 10 years.
Patients with a family history of colon cancer or personal history of advanced polyps should not rely on FIT.
“If a potential problem is detected with FIT, the patient will follow up with a colonoscopy,” remarked Liles.
More research is under way comparing the two. “Some preliminary studies show they do equally well at detecting cancer. Part of the reason is the FIT test is completed more often,” Dr. Liles added.
She said there has been some confusion about FIT being available over the counter. It’s not.
“You have to check with your doctor and find out if it’s available through your health system,” she concluded.