Get Screened for Colon Cancer with a FIT Test

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer among both men and women. The American Cancer Society recommends colon cancer screening for all Americans age 50 and older. In its earliest stages, colon cancer often has no symptoms, which makes testing necessary for early detection. As with other cancers, early detection is key to increase your chance of receiving successful treatment.

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, only 66 percent of eligible Montanans are up-to-date on colorectal cancer screening. National efforts are underway to achieve an increased screening rate of 80 percent by the end of 2018 to save more lives from this condition.

One option for colon cancer screening is a fecal immunochemical test (FIT). The FIT test is a take-home, high sensitivity test that looks for blood in the stool. Blood in the stool can indicate the presence of either colon cancer or an advanced polyp. These high sensitive FIT tests are now available at Benefis.

Benefis providers are committed to your health and are pleased to offer FIT tests to eligible patients. Unlike colonoscopies, these FIT tests do not require any prior colon prep, time away from work, or diet changes. FIT tests are also inexpensive and readily covered by most insurance plans. Just like your annual flu shot, FIT testing should be done once a year for individuals ages 50 and older.

If a FIT test comes back positive for blood in the stool, a follow-up colonoscopy is necessary to further evaluate the source of blood and determine if a cancer is present that needs additional treatment. Other options for colon cancer screening in average risk individuals include a colonoscopy every 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years with or without stool-based testing every three years, and stool DNA tests.

Some individuals may require screening more frequently or they may need to begin screening at a younger age than the general population. These individuals may include people that have an elevated risk of colon cancer based on their personal history of bowel diseases or polyps, or a family history of colon cancer or polyps.

It is important to talk to your doctor about your specific risks and the pros and cons of the varying screening options. If you are over the age of 50 and haven’t been screened for colon cancer, ask your doctor if the FIT test is right for you. It could save your life.

If you do not have a primary healthcare provider, call (406) 731-8896 to find a Benefis primary care provider to help manage your healthcare needs.