What is FIT test?
FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) is a screening test for colon cancer. It is a stool test which detects hidden blood in stool. FIT is highly sensitive and can detect minute quantities of blood (less than 10 mcg/ g). Occult blood in stool is one of the first sign of colorectal cancer and should be investigated. HAAD recommends that all individuals between the ages of 40 and 75 should be tested annually.
How do I prepare for FIT test?
There are no drug or dietary restrictions recommended for preparation of FIT. Sample collection is simple and only one stool sample is required. The stool sample can be dropped at any King’s College Hospital branches (Dubai Hills Hospital, Dubai Jumeirah Clinic or Dubai Marina Clinic) within 24 hours of sample collection.
FIT test should not be used if you are bleeding from any other causes, such as haemorrhoids, anal fissures, blood in urine or menstrual bleeding
What does a positive test result mean?
A positive FIT indicates abnormal bleeding from the lower digestive tract. This should be followed up by a visit to your gastro-enterologist, who will perform a colonoscopy to look inside your colon with the help of a small camera attached to the tip of the colonoscope. Any polyps or tumours found during the colonoscopy will be removed and sent for biopsy.
What is Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer – cancer of the colon and rectum is the second to third most common cancer in the world. It is one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in the Gulf Countries and globally. Most patients with polyps and early colorectal cancers do not have any symptoms. However, if detected early, colorectal cancer can be prevented and cured.
Who is at risk of Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer risks increase as one gets older. All men and women aged 40 and older are at risk for developing colorectal cancer and should be screened. The likelihood of developing colorectal cancer can be exacerbated by certain lifestyle choices including:
- A sedentary/inactive lifestyle
- Low fiber intake
- Not eating enough grains, fruits, and vegetables
- Being on a diet high in processed food, fats, and red meat
- Genetics also play a role when it comes to being at risk of colorectal cancer. It can occur at any age, but often starts after the age of 40.
What are the symptoms of Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer is considered a silent disease. This is because it rarely presents any symptoms. However, when symptoms occur, they may include:
- Blood in or on the stool
- Change in bowel habits
- Stools that are narrower than usual
- General stomach discomfort (bloating, fullness, and/or cramps)
- Diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
- Frequent gas pains
- Weight loss for no apparent reason
- Rectal bleeding
- Persistent tiredness, or fatigue while engaging in activities that your body could previously keep up with
If an individual experiences any of the symptoms mentioned for more than 14 days, it is highly recommended that they see a health professional as soon as possible. Nevertheless, while not all who presents these symptoms may have colorectal cancer, their persistence is considered to be less than normal and investigations in order to determine the underlying cause is highly recommended.
Why should people be screened for Colorectal Cancer?
Colorectal cancer rarely presents any symptoms in the early stages. Colon cancer usually starts out as a benign polyp. Colon polyps can be both pre-cancerous and non-pre-cancerous. The presence of polyps can be identified through screening tests, after which they can be removed, thus preventing the onset of colorectal cancer. Early cancers can be cured in up to 90% of cases. Once colorectal cancer causes bleeding, change in bowel habits, or abdominal pain, it has usually progressed to a more advanced stage where less than 50% of patients are cured.
King’s Colorectal Cancer Screening programme is led by highly qualified doctors, including accredited colonoscopist British Consultant Colorectal Surgeons, and UK & German Board Certified Gastroenterologists with decades of experience preforming colonoscopy screenings.