A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or sometimes called an iFOBT is used for colorectal cancer screening to detect hidden blood in the stool. The FIT is done at home by taking 1-3 small samples from different bowel movements. The FIT must be done every year to be effective as screening tests for colorectal cancer. For most people, the FIT is recommended as an option for screening. Learn more about screening options.

How does it work and how often?

If a large polyp or tumor is growing in the colon or rectum, trace amounts of blood may be deposited on the stool as it passes through. The FIT test works by detecting this trace amount of fecal blood that isn’t visible to the naked eye. It is important to know that polyps or tumors don’t always bleed, so that is why it is important to take a sample from different bowel movements and to do the test every year.

What happens when a FIT test is positive?

If the test is positive, your doctor will want to do a colonoscopy to see what is causing the trace amount of blood. Remember that large polyps and tumors don’t always bleed, so if your FIT detected blood the first time, you should have a follow-up colonoscopy to find out why and you do not need to take another FIT.

Is it right for me?

FIT is recommended for people that are at an average risk for colorectal cancer. This means that if you have a family history or have had colorectal cancer or some type of polyps, your doctor will recommend that you be screened with a colonoscopy.  Learn about Family History.

Pros and cons of a FIT test

Many people like the idea of a take-home test because it is a private and convenient way to screen for colorectal cancer. Unlike guaiac-based FOBT (fecal occult blood test), the FIT does not have any dietary restrictions. The FIT needs to be done every year to be effective, so some people would rather have a colonoscopy, which in many cases only needs to be done every 10 years. Be sure to talk to your health care provider about which test is right for you. Learn more about FIT and other screening options.

4 thoughts on “What Is a FIT Test?

    1. Hi Marilyn: It’s best to work with your medical provider to obtain your FIT test. This way, you can have an in person conversation and ask all your questions. Be sure to talk about colorectal cancer risk factors and family history with your doctor.

      If you have signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer, see your medical provider as soon as possible for a colonoscopy.

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