Medically reviewed by Zara Fullerton, Medical Content Advisor
A cancer screening test is used to identify cancer in its early stages before symptoms appear. It is an important part of routine healthcare.
If you are not experiencing symptoms but would like to start the conversation with your doctor or would simply like to be proactive about your health, read on for insights into colon cancer screening including whether or not a FIT is right for you.
It’s important to talk to your healthcare provider about what screening tests are best for you.
- When Should You Start Screening For Colon Cancer?
- What Are The Colorectal Cancer Screening Options?
- What is a Fecal Immunochemical (FIT) Test?
- How do I Know What Screening Test is Right For Me?
When Should You Start Screening For Colon Cancer?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults aged 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer . The decision to be screened between ages 76 and 85 should be made on an individual basis. If you are older than 75, talk to your doctor about screening.
It may be recommended to begin screening earlier or more often than others if :
- You have an inflammatory bowel disease eg. Crohn’s disease
- There is a family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome
For people with an increased risk of colorectal cancer, a colonoscopy may be recommended. Talk to your healthcare provider about the most suitable screening tests for you and how often these should be performed.
Related Article: 5 Simple Steps You Can Take Now to Help Prevent Colon Cancer
What Are The Colorectal Cancer Screening Options?
There are a few types of colorectal cancer screening tests:
Stool-based tests: These tests look at a stool sample for any indicators that further testing for colorectal cancer is required. This includes blood in the stool and/or altered DNA. Examples include fecal immunochemical tests (such as LetsGetChecked’s FIT test) and FIT DNA tests.
Visual tests: These tests look at the inside of the colon using a thin flexible tube for any abnormalities. Examples include a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy.
CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy): Computed tomography (CT) colonography, also called a virtual colonoscopy, uses X-rays and computers to produce images of the entire colon.
It is important to know that if your test result is positive or abnormal on some screening tests (stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and CT colonography), a colonoscopy is needed to complete the screening process.
What is a Fecal Immunochemical (FIT) Test?
A stool-based test such as a FIT can be a great first step in protecting your health and screening for colorectal cancer. It’s important to note that this test is not suitable if you are experiencing symptoms.
A FIT detects microscopic blood in the stool, meaning blood that is invisible to the naked eye. There are many reasons why blood may be present in the stool, including hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, stomach ulcers, and polyps (non-cancerous growths). However, there may be other causes of blood in the stool, including precancerous polyps and colon cancer.
A FIT cannot diagnose cancer but can indicate that further testing such as a colonoscopy is required.
How do I Know What Screening Test is Right For Me?
Whether or not a specific screening test is right for you is dependent on several factors. Consider asking yourself the following questions before you make a decision
- Is there much preparation involved?
- How convenient is the test?
- How often do you need to retest?
- Can the cost be covered by insurance or FSA/HSA?
If you have an increased risk or are experiencing symptoms, speak with a healthcare professional who will recommend the right test for you.
Is a FIT Right For Me?
Each colon cancer screening test has its advantages and disadvantages. If you are not experiencing symptoms but would like to begin taking control of your colon health, a FIT such as the LetsGetChecked FIT can help offer the early insights you need. For some people, other tests such as a colonoscopy may be recommended - talk to your healthcare provider about the most suitable screening tests for you
If you want to take action now and start protecting your health, the LetsGetChecked FIT screening test is a great first step in your colon cancer screening journey.
Here’s how it works
- Order your kit online
- Collect your sample from home and return it the same day using the prepaid shipping label
- Your sample will be sent to our lab for full analysis - these are the same labs used by primary care providers and hospitals
- Easy-to-understand results will be available on your secure online account within 2-5 days of our lab receiving your sample
- Our clinical team will be available to speak with you about your results and provide guidance on the next steps
- It’s important to share all results with your doctor and talk to them about the most suitable screening tests for you