According to a study published in Annals of Internal Medicine, the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is highly sensitive for detecting colorectal cancer, and adherence to annual follow-up screening among initial participants is high, making the non-invasive test feasible and effective for annual colorectal cancer screening programs.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Evidence shows that highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests (FOBT), which are recommended for annual screening of average risk patients between the ages of 50 and 75, can reduce morbidity and mortality from colorectal cancer. But community screening programs can only be successful if people participate. FIT screening is another noninvasive option that can be delivered by mail and does not require any dietary or medication restrictions, making it easy for people to comply. FIT also has higher detection rates for CRC and advanced adenomas than FOBT, but little is known about how well FIT works over several rounds of annual screening.
Researchers collected data on a large cohort of patients from Kaiser Permanente Northern and Southern California over four rounds of annual screening with FIT. Sensitivity was highest during the first round of testing (84.5 percent) and became lower but stable over subsequent years (73.4 to 78.0 percent). Over 4 years of repeated testing, patients continued to use the test and it continued to identify colorectal cancer, suggesting that he FIT is acceptable and effective for community colorectal cancer screening programs.