Fecal Immunochemical Test
The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is used to screen for colorectal cancer (CRC). The FIT is performed the same way as the traditional fecal occult blood test (FOBT) without the need to follow a special diet or use special drugs in preparation for the test. Like the FOBT, the FIT detects small amounts of blood in feces. When performed annually, beginning at age 50, FIT allows physicians to track patients at high risk for CRC.
For additional information on the FIT, visit the American Cancer Society Web site.
Who should have a fecal immunochemical test?
Men and women who are 50 years of age and older should have the FIT each year. The FIT checks for blood in the stool, which may be a sign of cancer. This test may be done privately at home. If blood is found in the stool, additional exams may be required, such as a colonoscopy.
The FIT does not detect polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon. Patients with certain risk factors may still need to have a more invasive test, such as colonoscopy, to check for polyps.
Fit kit and educational materials
The FIT kit was developed by the Community Network for Cancer Prevention in collaboration with clinical staff of the Harris Health System. The purpose the FIT kit is to:
- Increase knowledge and awareness of CRC screening guidelines and services among Harris Health System patients.
- Provide tools to health providers to educate patients about CRC screening resources available at the state, regional, and local levels.
- Increase rates of referral and follow-up of abnormal FIT results through the Harris Health System.
- Increase the proportion of patients identified as being at risk for CRC.
- Increase the proportion of patient diagnosed with CRC in precancerous or early stages of disease.
The FIT kit has several components: FIT educational videos, a FIT distribution bag, and printed and audio instructional guides. Preliminary results from surveys conducted among patients and Harris Health System healthcare providers indicate high levels of satisfaction with the content of the FIT kit.
FIT Educational Videos
Patients in the Harris Health System who are eligible for CRC screening are identified by an alert from the health-maintenance module in the electronic medical record system.
Eligible patients are given the opportunity to view a brief educational video about CRC screening in English, Spanish, or Vietnamese before visiting with their physician.
Each video is culturally and linguistically appropriate for African-American, white, Hispanic, and Vietnamese men and women. Because the patient selects the video he or she prefers to watch, selection data can be used to analyze whether CRC screening rates will improve, patient knowledge about CRC screening will increase, and patient attitudes about CRC screening will change.
All of the videos can be viewed online.
FIT distribution bag
The FIT distribution bag was developed so that patients could carry all of their sample collection supplies discretely in a single bag and to remind them to take the test and return their specimen-collection card to the clinic.
The bag contains an instructional guide, a biohazard bag, three gloves, three wooden sticks, and three fecal specimen-collection cards. All the test materials and instructions in the bag are printed in English, Spanish, or Vietnamese.
Printed Instruction Guide
At the end of the clinic visit, a Harris Health System staff member explains this instructional guide to the patient. This printed guide is a set of easy-to-read step-by-step instructions for the FIT. The guide is designed to help patients complete their FIT screening in the privacy of their home. It explains how to perform the test, how to properly store the specimens, and where to return them.
Audio instruction line
The printed FIT instructional guide contains the number for a dedicated phone line (713-798-1110) that patients can call and listen to audiotape instructions for completing the FIT. The audiotaped instructions supplement the printed guide and are currently available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Listen for the audiotaped instructions in:
- English: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4
- Spanish: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4
- Vietnamese: section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4