An at-home FIT test may catch colorectal cancer in its earliest stages.
Colon cancer is the No. 2 cause of cancer deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That is about 51,000 people – a starker stat when you realize that more than 29 million Americans do not keep up their screening for colon cancer.
There is good news, though – screening can be as easy as taking a test in your own home. Health networks such as Renown offer a once-a-year FIT test, which stands for Fecal Immunochemical Test.
It’s pretty remarkable how it works: with a stool sample, it can detect hidden traces of blood, often the first sign of cancer.
“When you catch colon cancer in the earliest stages, you can go in and have surgery and you’re done,” says Denise Wiley, RN, OCN, Nurse Navigator at Renown Institute for Cancer. “That’s what would take place instead of still having the surgery, but then needing chemotherapy and possibly even radiation.”
A colonoscopy is still the best at finding and removing cancerous polyps in the colon. The CDC recommends a colonoscopy for persons age 50 and over, and then every 10 years afterward. In those in-between times, though, the FIT test is a convenient screening that can be completed at home instead of going to the doctor’s office or a hospital.
It’s important to note that African Americans should begin colon cancer screenings at age 45, while people with a family history of colon cancer should speak with their doctor about their screening schedule.
Either way, having a regular screening is Prevention 101 – and the FIT test makes it that much easier to complete every year.
“Whether you’ve been meaning to schedule a colonoscopy, or you’d just like some extra peace of mind, the FIT test is a great first screening to help detect any concerns early,” Wiley says.