1) What is the At-Home test (FIT)?
The at-home test or FIT is a screening test that checks for very small amounts of blood in your stool that you cannot see.
2) What is the difference between the FIT and the test that is usually used?
Although the Guaiac (gFecal Occult Blood Test) and Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) are both tests used to help find small amounts of blood in stool, the biggest differences between the two tests is that the FIT:
- Is more ‘sensitive’ to detecting blood in stool than the Guaiac test;
- Is more specific in finding potential cancer;
- Requires NO special diet or NO restrictions on medication;
- Takes less time to do (requires only one sample); and
- Is currently only available to eligible participants of the NB Colon Cancer Screening program.
3) How is the FIT specimen collected?
This test is performed by YOU in the privacy of your own home.
You simply place a small amount of your stool in the test container. Instructions are provided with the mailed test.
4) What if I am having trouble collecting a stool sample?
Here are some tips for collecting a stool sample for the FIT:
• You can watch a Video on collecting a colon screening test.
• Try securing the tissue paper provided in the kit in between the toilet bowl and the seat to collect stool. Plastic wrap can also be used instead of the tissue paper to support the stool.
• You can also collect your stool on a clean, disposable container, for example, a paper plate.
• If you have any questions, call 1-844-777-8443.
5) Is the sample collection/tissue paper safe for sewer and septic systems?
Yes. The collection/tissue paper is biodegradable and will not harm septic systems.
6) Do I need to change what I eat or stop any medications before doing the test?
No. No dietary restrictions or medication changes are needed for this test.
7) Are there times when I should not use the test kit?
Yes. They include:
• If you have symptoms of colon cancer, including blood in your stool you should not use the test kit.
• See your primary health-care provider (doctor or nurse) to discuss your symptoms.
• If you are bleeding from hemorrhoids, are currently menstruating or have blood in your urine, you should wait to do the test until you have stopped bleeding for 3 days.
• Visit the Canadian Cancer Society for more information about the signs and symptoms of colon cancer.
8) Can I collect the sample from very loose or hard stools?
Yes. It is okay to collect the sample from very loose or hard stools.
• If the loose stools are related to a virus, like food poisoning, wait to take the test until you feel better.
• For hard stool, using a clean, disposable container may make it easier to collect your sample.
9) Can the test be mailed back by Canada Post?
Yes. The kit can be mailed in any Canada Post mail box or outlet. You do not need any stamps, the postage is pre-paid. The address of the laboratory is printed on the envelope.
10) Will an UNUSED test kit expire?
Yes. Your collection tube will have an expiry date on it. Be sure to complete the test prior to the kit's expiry. Once the kit is used, it must be analyzed within 7 days. Please avoid mailing the test on a Friday afternoon or during the weekend. If you cannot mail the same day, please keep in the fridge until you can mail it.
11) Is the collection tube meant to have liquid in it?
Yes, the liquid in the tube is a buffer solution. This is required for transport and analyzing your sample.
12) How much stool should I collect?
Only a small amount of stool is needed. Just ensure that the grooved part at the end of the stick is covered.
13) What does a normal FIT result mean?
A normal or negative result means that no blood was found in your stool. You will be invited to repeat the screening test in two years.
14) What if I am being asked to repeat the FIT?
Sometimes the lab is unable to process your test. This could be because:
• The collection date was not on the test tube or on the form.
• The test was damaged in the mail.
• The collection date was more than 14 days ago.
• The analyzer malfunctioned.
• The test had expired.
• There was a recall on your test.
• The specimen was not put in the envelope prior to mailing.
• The information on the tube did not match the information on the form.
Please read and follow the instructions carefully when mailing your specimen.
15) What if I see blood in my stool even if I have a normal FIT result?
If you see blood in your stool, or notice any of the warning signs of colon cancer, please see your primary health-care provider (doctor or nurse) right away.
16) What does an abnormal or positive FIT result mean?
An abnormal or positive FIT result means:
• Blood was found in your stool and more testing needs to be done to see where the blood is coming from. It could be coming from a polyp or cancer or even from hemorrhoids. Some polyps could develop into colon cancer if they are not removed.
• The screening program nurse will call you to arrange for a follow-up test called a colonoscopy.
• For every 1000 people who complete the FIT, about 60 people will have an abnormal result and will be referred for a colonoscopy. It is estimated that six of those people will have colon cancer or pre-cancerous lesions found by a colonoscopy.
• Several people with positive FIT will have polyps that could have led to colon cancer if they had not been removed during their colonoscopy.