Stool Test for Colorectal Cancer | FIT

Your MaineHealth provider may order a stool test to look for signs of colorectal cancer and other conditions that cause blood in the stool.

What is the FIT test?

FIT test is also known as the fecal immunochemical test. The FIT is an at-home stool test is to screen for early colon cancer.  FIT test detects blood in the stool even when it is not visible. Blood in the stool can be an early sign of cancer. Invisible blood in the stool also is called occult blood. Talk to your doctor about whether the FIT test is right for you.

If the FIT test is positive, your provider may order additional tests, such as a colonoscopy, which finds ulcers, polyps and tumors.

What is a stool test for colorectal cancer?

A stool test is just one of many tests used to look for signs of colorectal cancer and other conditions that may cause blood in the stool. Although blood in the stool can be a sign of cancer, other conditions cause the problem. Those conditions include:

  • Anal fissure

  • Colon polyps

  • Crohn’s disease

  • GERD

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Peptic ulcers

  • Ulcerative colitis

In addition, taking aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs can cause blood in the stool.

Preparing for the FIT Test

How the Test is Performed

You will be given the test to do at home. Be sure to follow the instructions. Most of the tests contain the following information outlined below. You also should talk to your provider if you have questions or concerns.

  • Check that you have all parts of your sample kit, and that the kit has not expired.
  • Write your full name, date of birth, collection date and time on sample bottle and on the form.
  • Collect your stool sample by following the instructions that come with your kit.
  • Double check that the sample bottle label and form are filled out, and place the bag containing your sample in the prepaid return envelope.
  • Mail the sample to your lab or bring it to your provider’s office within 3 days of taking your sample.

Special Considerations for FIT Testing

  • Talk to your doctor about whether the FIT test is the right test for you.
  • If anything unusual is found in the sample, your doctor will tell you to get a follow-up colonoscopy.
  • There is no special diet or bowel preparation prior to taking the FIT test.
  • FIT tests are repeated yearly for regular colon cancer screening.

Stool Testing for Other Conditions

What is a stool test for colorectal cancer?

A stool test is just one of many tests used to look for signs of colorectal cancer and other conditions that may cause blood in the stool. Although blood in the stool can be a sign of cancer, other conditions cause the problem. Those conditions include:

  • Anal fissure
  • Colon polyps
  • Crohn’s disease
  • GERD
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Ulcerative colitis

In addition, taking aspirin and other non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs can cause blood in the stool.