A new study in the Annals of Internal Medicine reported that a simgle stool sample collected by patients at home and sent to a lab for analysis will detect 79 percent of colorectal cancers. The researchers said “We know the FIT is easy to use, and now we also know this tool is a great tool for assessing which patients have cancer and which patients don’t.” The test has been recommended since 2008 but many people still do not know about it. And unlike other older stool tests, it does not require people to restrict their diets or to stop taking medications. The test detects small amounts of blood in the stool and those who test positive are more likely to have colorectal cancer and need to be followed up with a colonoscopy.
The evidence review for FIT . showed the test was quite sensitive and on average, detects 79 percent, or about 4 or 5 cancers with only one round of testing. It was also quite specific, on average, identifying 94 percent of those who did not have cancer who actually did not have cancer. For comparison, the at home test for fecal occult blood (FOBT) detects only about 13 to 50 percent of cancers after a single round of testing. This test also required three stool samples and also had dietary and medication restrictions. For the FIT three stool specimens do not detect better than one. Nineteen studies were reviewed.