Skip to main content

How it Works

Provider and patient in medical office

Your primary care provider registers you with the Colon Screening Program when he/she provides you with a lab requisition form to pick up your fecal immunochemical test (FIT) or refers you for colonoscopy.

Being registered with the program means that the program will mail you your FIT results and keep track of your screening progress to ensure quality and safety. The Colon Screening Program will also mail you a reminder when it is time to test again.


The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a test you can do at home. It detects blood in your stool (poop) which can be a sign of pre-cancer. To complete the test:

  1. Talk to your health care provider and ask for a FIT. If you are eligible for screening, your health care provider will give you an order form for a free FIT kit.
  2. Take your order form and your BC Services Card/CareCard to a designated lab, and pick up your test kit. Visit Laboratory Locations for a list of participating labs.
  3. Take the test at home by following the instructions provided in the test kit. No special preparation is needed. You can continue to eat your usual foods and take your medications.
  4. Drop your sample off at the lab. Your sample must be submitted to the lab within 7 days of taking the test.
  5. If you have a normal result, you may access your result through MyCareCompass. If you do not have a MyCareCompass account, you can sign up for one within 30 days of picking up your FIT from the lab. Otherwise, you may contact your health care provider for your result.
  6. If you have an abnormal resultyou will be referred for follow-up in your community. An abnormal result does not mean that you have cancer. It means that blood was found in your stool. The health care team in your community will speak with you about your test result and make recommendations for follow-up testing. Colonoscopy is usually recommended following an abnormal FIT result. While waiting for your colonoscopy, please speak with your health care provider if you are experiencing these symptoms at any time:

    • Blood in your stool
    • Abdominal pain
    • Change in bowel habits
    • Unexplained weight loss
For more information about the FIT, watch this animated video (also available in CantoneseMandarin, and Punjabi).

Things to know

  • The procedure is performed by a colonoscopist and usually lasts 20 to 45 minutes.
  • You will be closely monitored before, during, and after the procedure.
  • It is normal throughout the procedure to feel slight pressure or experience cramps.

Before the colonoscopy

  • Expect to be at the hospital for 2 to 3 hours.
  • You will be asked to change into a gown.
  • A nurse will complete your admission history and measure your vital signs.
  • You will be asked to provide a list of your medications.
  • A nurse will start an intravenous (IV) to administer sedation and pain medication.

During the colonoscopy

  1. A colonoscopist inserts the colonoscope into the rectum and advances it along the length of the colon.
  2. Air is sent through the colonoscope to expand the colon for better viewing.
  3. Images of the lining of the rectum and colon are sent to a video monitor where the colonoscopist will look for anything unusual, like a polyp. A polyp is a small growth of tissue on the wall of the intestine.
  4. Polyps can grow very slowly, and some can become cancerous. It may be necessary to take a sample (biopsy) or remove the polyp (polypectomy). This is painless.
  5. The biopsy or polyp is then sent to a lab for analysis.

After the colonoscopy

  • Have an adult accompany you home. You cannot drive until the following day.
  • You may be sleepy after you arrive home from the procedure. It is recommended that you do not operate equipment, sign legal papers or drink alcohol until the following day.
  • You will be able to resume your regular diet and medications after your colonoscopy unless otherwise directed by your patient coordinator or colonoscopist.
  • The air inside your colon may cause you to feel bloated and/or have cramping after the procedure. It is important to relax and pass the air as soon as possible. If this discomfort increases or is unrelieved, go to the emergency department and advise them that you had a colonoscopy.
For more information about what to expect during a colonoscopy, watch this animated video (also available in CantoneseMandarin, and Punjabi).

Patient talking to provider
No primary care provider? 
There are options to help you screen for colon cancer.

SOURCE: How it Works ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © Provincial Health Services Authority. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2024 Provincial Health Services Authority