FIT: Non-invasive home test for colon cancer

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - There's a relatively new tool to test for colon cancer called FIT or "Fecal Immunochemical Test."

The test looks for blood in the stool which can be an indication of colon cancer.

Since colonoscopies are not usually recommended before 50, people like Lorraine Barnes, in her 40s, see the exam as a good way to check for colon cancer early.

"Cancer runs rampant in my family, " Barnes said. "My mother just had her second breast cancer diagnosis a year ago."

FIT is essentially a home exam dispensed at places like Any Lab Test in the Landfall Shopping Center in Wilmington. It's quite simple. You make an appointment to get the exam. Once your medical information is entered into the system, you are given a kit to take home where you get a sample of your stool.

The kits include a tissue for the sample, a swab, and a container for the stool sample.

"You place the tissue on top of the water inside the toilet bowl," says Susan Lynch, medical assistant at Any Lab Test. "You're going to have a bowel movement and once you do, you're going to swab a small amount of stool from the top of the sample, place it into the kit (small plastic container), label it with your name, date of birth and then you're going to mail it to the company in a cardboard mailer."

Test results usually come back within five to seven days.

Home exams like FIT, can find indicators of colon cancer, but if blood is found in the stool, patients need to have a colonoscopy which would show a cancerous polyp if the disease is present.

Gastroenterologists stress there is no surefire alternative to finding colon cancer outside of a colonoscopy.

"The polyps we remove would not be detected by this test," says Dr. Jack Ramage of Hanover Gastroenterology.

But until Barnes turns 50, she says she's fine taking her chances with the home kit.

"You don't have all the prodding and probing so I'm pretty comfortable with it," she said.

Copyright 2017 WECT. All rights reserved.