FightColorectalCancer.org · Colorectal Cancer Alliance · Symptoms · Screening · At-Home Testing: Immunochemical (FIT) · Guaiac (FOBT) · Helpline: (877) 422-2030 · Donate
The following factors are linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer:
- Inactivity (little physical activity and exercise)
- Overweight and obese
- Little fruit, vegetable, and fiber consumption
- Heavy alcohol use (more than one drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men)
- A diet high in red meat (beef, pork, lamb), processed meats, and fats
- Meat preparation including frying, grilling, broiling, or other methods of cooking at very high temperatures
One of the most powerful tools against colorectal cancer is early detection by regular screening. Because it may be easier to treat when it’s small and hasn’t spread, regular screening can even prevent colorectal cancer.
Everyone should get screened — the only questions are when, using what method, and how often. The answers lie in several factors, including your age, and family history. Here are two tests can be done at home and in most cases can be covered by insurance:
The Fecal Immunochemical test (FIT) is used to detect blood in stool that cannot be seen with the naked eye by submitting 1-3 bowel movements. A FIT is often used to detect bleeding in the digestive tract which has no other signs or symptoms. A FIT test is similar to an FOBT, except the FIT test is newer and doesn’t require a restricted diet before. A FIT test may not detect blood from further up the digestive tract (such as the stomach), which means it is more specific to finding blood coming from the lower gastrointestinal tract than the FOBT.
The guaiac fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is used to find blood that can’t be seen with the naked eye in stool. The idea behind this test is that blood vessels at the surface of larger polyps or cancers are often fragile and easily damaged by passing stool. The damaged blood vessels usually release a small amount of blood into the stool, but only rarely is there enough bleeding to be visible in the stool. The FOBT is an easy way to determine whether there is blood in your stool, which could be the result of polyps or colorectal cancer.