How are FIT kits used to screen for colon cancer?

Updated: Apr 15, 2020
  • Author: Tomislav Dragovich, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: N Joseph Espat, MD, MS, FACS  more...
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Answer

A retrospective study in which FIT kits were mailed to patients concluded that this is an effective way to screen for colorectal cancer. In the study, the researchers mailed FIT kits to approximately 670,000 adults aged 50–70 years; 48.2% of those completed the test within 1 year. The patients who responded were mailed kits annually for the next 3 years, with response rates ranging from 75%–86%. [54]

In the study, which comprised 98,678 persons, 20 552 were randomly assigned to screening and 78,126 to no screening. On median follow-up of 14.8 years, the absolute risks for colorectal cancer in women were 1.86% in the screening group and 2.05% in the control group (hazard ratio [HR] 0.92). In men, the corresponding risks were 1.72% and 2.50%, respectively (HR 0.66). The absolute risks for death from colorectal cancer in women were 0.60% in the screening group and 0.59% in the control group (HR 1.01); in men, the corresponding risks were 0.49% and 0.81%, respectively (HR 0.63). [52]

Positive results on FIT screening were highest in the first round and declined in subsequent years. Overall, FIT screening identified 80% of patients with colorectal cancer diagnosed within 1 year of testing. [54]

In a cohort study of 70,124 patients with positive FIT results, Corley et al found that patients who underwent colonoscopy within 9 months showed no increased risk for colorectal cancer or advanced-stage disease, compared with those who had colonoscopy done within a month after the positive FIT result. However, patients who did not have procedures done until 10 months or later were at significantly higher risk for cancer findings. [55]


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