GI Patients Can Now Test Colons in the Comfort of Their Homes

January 28, 2016
Amy Jacob

Often, patients suffering from gastrointestinal issues are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to schedule a colonoscopy.

Often, patients suffering from gastrointestinal issues are too embarrassed or uncomfortable to schedule a colonoscopy.

To avoid this discomfort, patients can opt to use the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), a non-invasive, at-home colon cancer-screening test that can successfully detect blood in the stool.

According to study results published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the FIT is associated with high sensitivity for detecting colorectal cancer (CRC). The study also revealed that a large majority of patients who opted to use the FIT continued to use it for subsequent annual testing.

Researchers collected data on 323,349 health plan members between the ages of 50 and 70 over a 4-period who had participated in FIT screening.

While FIT is preferred by many patients as it doesn’t require the bowel-cleansing preparation or sedation and scope test associated with colonoscopy, colonoscopy is advantageous in allowing for screening and removing polyps found.

Alok Khorana, MD, head oncologist of the gastrointestinal cancers program at Cleveland Clinic, believed patients who avoid colonoscopies because of the uncomfortable prep time required might be more ready to get screened if there’s a new effective annual alternative.

“It’s been frustrating for physicians. Data shows that colon cancer screening saves lives. It’s been out there for a few years. Colon cancer is common, yet people don’t get screened,” Khorana said in an interview with CBS news.