Bowel Cancer ScreeningFIT Test
Why do I need it, what is it?
The FIT tests for tiny traces of blood in a stool sample which may not be visible to the eye. Bowel abnormalities can develop into cancer over time and are more likely to bleed than normal tissue. If blood is present in the stool, it can be an indicator of the presence of abnormalities in the bowel. Patients with a positive FIT result can be referred for further investigation involving colonoscopy. If cancer is found early, treatments are often more effective.
Worried about Cancer?
The FIT is a diagnostic test to identify possible signs of bowel disease; in particular, colon cancer (using stool samples).
It uses antibodies that specifically recognise human haemoglobin to test for hidden blood in the stool which can be an early sign of cancer. The FIT only tests for blood present in the stool and so medicine and food does not affect the results of the test.
From the comfort of your own home
If you are concerned about your bowel health and would like to undertake preventative screening, we recommend ordering a FIT test. It is a simple test taken in the comfort of your own home with a very low threshold for positive results, increasing the likelihood for early detection and faster treatment of bowel diseases.
The FIT is the most advanced, non-invasive screening tool for bowel cancer available and produces fewer false positives than other tests.
What are the symptoms?
- Changes in your normal bowel habit such as looser stools, constipation, or more frequent bowel movements.
- Anaemia – tiredness and/or breathlessness.
- Unexplained weight loss.
- Abdominal (tummy) pain such as cramping pains.
- Bleeding from the rectum or blood present in the stool.
What is the treatment for a positive result?
If you have a positive FIT result, it means blood was found in the stool sample and will need to be investigated further. It is important to note, a positive FIT does not mean you have cancer. Blood in your faeces can be caused by cancer or by other medical conditions. Further investigations can be done with the use of an examination called colonoscopy.
Am I in the clear with a negative result?
A negative FIT means no blood was found in your sample. For most people this means they do not have cancer, but a normal FIT does not completely rule out cancer. It is possible for some people to have cancer and have a normal FIT. If your symptoms continue or get worse, it is important to see your GP.
Who is more susceptible, what are the risks?
- Diet, eating too much red and processed meat. The government recommends that people eating more than 90g of red and processed meat a day should reduce it to 70g or less. 70g is the cooked weight. This is about the same as 2 sausages. Eating too little fibre causes around 30 in 100 bowel cancer cases (around 30%) in the UK. You can boost the fibre in your diet by choosing wholegrain versions of foods.
- Obesity is a cause of bowel cancer. It is estimated that 11 out of 100 bowel cancers (11%) in the UK are linked to being overweight or obese. Obesity means being very overweight with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or higher. And being overweight is a BMI of between 25 and 30. There is strong evidence which shows that people who are more physically active have a lower risk of bowel cancer.
- Smoking tobacco 7 out of 100 bowel cancers (7%) in the UK are linked to smoking.
- Alcohol increases the risk of bowel cancer. It has been estimated that around 6 out of 100 bowel cancers (around 6%) in the UK are linked to drinking alcohol. F
- Family history, your risk of bowel cancer is increased if you have a first degree relative diagnosed with bowel cancer. A first degree relative is a parent, brother or sister, son or daughter. The risk is increased further if you have more than one relative diagnosed with bowel cancer. Or you have a first degree relative diagnosed at a young age, for example, under the age of 45 years old.
Other risks and influences include
- Diabetes, if you have diabetes, your pancreas doesn’t make enough of a hormone called insulin. People with diabetes may have an increased risk of bowel cancer.
- Gallstones, the risk of rectal cancer is increased in people with gallstones compared to those without.
- Acromegaly (a rare condition where the body produces too much growth hormone, causing body tissues and bones to grow more quickly), people with acromegaly also have an increased risk of bowel cancer, although studies are still trying to find out why.
- Radiation, around 2 in 100 cases (around 2%) of bowel cancer in the UK are linked to radiation exposure. Some of these cases are due to radiotherapy treatment for previous cancer. The rest are linked to radiation used in tests such as x-rays and CT scans (diagnostic radiation) and background radiation.
- Infections, there is some evidence that the risk of bowel cancer is higher in people who have an infection called Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori). This is a type of bacteria which can cause stomach ulcers.
This list is not exhaustive and covers just the main influences.
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