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Colon Cancer Test: Understanding The FIT Kit

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 13, 2023

Colon Cancer Test: Understanding The FIT Kit

What is a Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), or FIT kit? It’s a type of screening test for colon cancer. It detects blood in the stool, which is an early sign of colon cancer (though it can be a sign of other conditions as well.) This colon cancer test uses antibodies to detect blood in the stool, and it’s around 79% accurate at detecting colon cancer.

Who should use a FIT kit for at-home use?

A FIT kit is a good choice for anyone who:

  • Has no history of IBD or colon cancer
  • Has not been affected by colon cancer before the age of 60
  • Neither parents nor siblings, having had two or fewer family members, at any age, diagnosed

Otherwise, it might be preferable to ask your doctor about getting a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy instead. Additionally, colonoscopy is the best method for detecting colorectal cancer independent of risk factors.

How is the FIT put to use?

There is no preparation necessary other than being prepared for a bowel movement. It’s better to avoid taking stool tests when you’re menstruating or hemorrhoid-bleeding actively. Similar instructions are included in most kits, but make sure to carefully read yours. Some kits allow for complete screening at home without requiring the submission of a sample for analysis. Some kits require you to mail the sample for testing and physical contact with your feces. Make sure you know exactly what your kit will require of you before purchasing,

Make careful to record all relevant information on your kit, such as your name, the date, and so on, for kits that ask you to send a sample for testing.  You should properly wrap the items in the given box and follow the instructions to send it for testing once you have finished the required collecting technique.

When to seek medical help

If your test is negative, you can easily schedule another test for a year from now or whenever your healthcare provider recommends it.

If your test is positive, blood in your stool is the cause. Make an appointment with your doctor to further investigate,

Even while FIT tests are a practical approach to checking for colon cancer at home, a colonoscopy and a conversation with your doctor are still necessary. This is particularly true for those who have a high risk of developing colon cancer.

You could be more vulnerable if you have:

  • A background of colon cancer or IBD
  • Colon cancer in their parents or relatives prior to the age of 60, two or more relatives, whatever of age, with colon cancer
  • Other lifestyle-related risk factors for colon cancer to take into account include alcohol use, degree of physical activity, and smoking

Colonoscopy versus FIT

The Center for disease prevention and control (CDC) recommends that those between the ages of 45 and 75 get routine colon cancer screenings. A review conducted in 2021 found only 67 percent of Americans have had their routine colorectal cancer screenings completed. It is hoped that FIT will fill the gap in routine screening for people at average risk who may not have easy access to colonoscopies or who would simply prefer a less invasive and more convenient screening option.

The key distinctions between colonoscopies and FITs are as follows:

  • Colonoscopies need greater preparation.
  • The gold standard for detecting colon cancer is a colonoscopy. However, they need tedious preparation, dietary or pharmaceutical restrictions, and time off from work or school. Of course, they can be uncomfortable even when they don’t hurt.
  • Colonoscopies must be performed less frequently than FITs.
  • FIT must be performed annually in order to detect colorectal cancer, despite the fact that 2019 study suggests it is nearly as effective as colonoscopies. Compared to the painful but even more accurate colonoscopies, this occurs far more frequently.
  • Colonoscopies are more reliable and a better option if you have a high risk of colon cancer.
  • A colonoscopy should be performed on everyone at high risk of developing colon cancer, including those with a family history, prior colon cancer diagnoses, a history of IBD, and other known risk factors.
  • Colonoscopies carry some hazards, like most medical procedures. Fewer than 3 serious complications occur for every 1,000 procedures performed on patients with an average risk of colorectal cancer.


Is a FIT done at home reliable?

FITs are almost as useful as colonoscopies. However, user error can still affect the results. Studies from 2018 assert that the possibility of both false-positive and false-negative results exists.

Colonoscopies are regarded as the gold standard in colon cancer screening, meaning that they may be the most effective method available, particularly for people who are at high risk.

Are FIT tests as effective as colonoscopies?

FITs are almost as effective as colonoscopies, according to a 2019 assessment. Although, as mentioned, colonoscopies are still the gold standard for screening. They are even more precise and essential for those who have a high risk of developing colon cancer.

Is a Cologuard test the same as a FIT test?

A FIT test is a fecal immunochemical test, and Cologuard is a specific FIT test that differs from other FIT alternatives in that it may screen for both precancer and cancer by looking for specific DNA markers. However, the majority of FITs only check for the presence of blood.

When should you perform a colon cancer screening at home?

For persons with an average risk of colon cancer who want to avoid the inconvenience of a colonoscopy, have limited access to colonoscopies, or simply prefer a less intrusive screening alternative and don’t mind completing a FIT every year, this is a good option.

Without a colonoscopy, how can colon cancer be found?

Large intestinal polyps and colon growths that have the potential to become malignant can bleed, A FIT can find blood in the feces that isn’t visible. These growths or polyps may be detected by blood in the stool.

What is the difference between the FIT and gFOBT?

Another test that finds blood in the stool is the guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT).

In a 2018 analysis, experts determined that FIT was the superior testing approach for a few reasons. FIT is not only more reliable in detecting blood in the stool, it doesn’t need any preparation before testing. FIT has the capacity to detect colorectal polyps and CRC at higher sensitivity than gFOBT. Patients prefer it because it requires no dietary restrictions and fewer samples. Gastroenterology societies have also touted its benefits.

Key Takeaway

Blood in the stool is a possible indication of colon cancer, and FIT, a type of colon cancer test,  tests for it. These tests are available in a variety of formats and pricing points. While some may be completed at home, others may require you to send a sample to a lab for analysis.

For those at average risk of colon cancer who want to skip the hassle of preparation time and a doctor visit for a colonoscopy, the FIT is a good choice. Even those with a high risk of developing colon cancer should get a colonoscopy. If they choose the FIT, they must get the test every year as opposed to every 10 years for a colonoscopy.

Learn more about Colorectal Cancer here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

General Practitioner

Written by Hello Doctor Medical Panel · Updated Mar 13, 2023

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