What it is:
A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) (also called an immunochemical fecal occult blood test or iFOBT) is used to test the stool for blood that can not be seen with the naked eye (called occult blood). A FIT is often used to dectect bleeding in the digestive tract which has no other signs or symptoms. Blood in the stool can be caused by a number of conditions, including cancers of the digestive tract such as colon cancer.
A FIT is similar to a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), except that the FIT is a newer test that doesn't require patients to follow a restricted diet before taking the test. (An FOBT requires abstaining from red meat and certain medications for a number of days prior to the test.) A FIT may not detect blood from further up the digestive tract (such as in the stomach), which means that it is more specific to finding blood coming from the lower gastrointestinal tract than the FOBT. Many patients find the collection methods of the FIT easier than those of the FOBT.
What it's used for:
Fecal occult blood tests such as the FIT or the FOBT are usually recommended at regular intervals to screen for colon cancer in people who are over the age of 50 years. People at high risk for colon cancer because of family history or polyps may begin testing earlier, as determined by a physician.
You should not use the FIT if you:
- Have active bleeding from a hemorrhoid or anal fissure
- Have blood in your urine
- Are a woman having your menstral period or during the three days after the end of your period
Toilet cleaners may affect test results and should be removed before using the FIT.
How it's done:
You will be given a kit to be used for collecting stool samples for the test. This kit should be kept in the bathroom at home, or carried with you when you're away from home during the test. Be sure to write your name and other information on the collection cards.
Flush the toilet before a bowel movement. Brush the surface of the stool with one of the brushes from the kit for several seconds. Shake the brush once to dislodge any clumps of stool or excess water. Apply the sample by swabbing the appropriate spot on the test card for several seconds with the bristles of the brush. Dispose of the brush as directed by the instructions included with the kit.
Repeat for one more bowel movement as directed by your doctor. Cover the test cards and store them away from heat, light, and strong chemicals.
After completing the test, seal the test envelope and return the kit to your doctor or the laboratory.
This test is safe and painless.
Call your doctor in a few days for the results. With a positive test, additional procedures such as a colonoscopy may be recommended.
Call the doctor:
If you have diarrhea or constipation during the test period.
Other important information:Read all instructions that come with the kit carefully before testing begins.
Enterix, Inc. "InSure Patient Guide." Quest Diagnostics 2007. 20 Jan 2014.
American Cancer Society. "Can Colorectal Polyps and Cancer Be Found Early?" Cancer.org 5 Mar 2008. 20 Jan 2014.