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Results

There are 2 different tests available – the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and colonoscopy. For more information about results for each test, visit the appropriate section below.

FIT

Your doctor will receive your test result about 2 weeks after you drop off your sample.

  • The Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) is the test used in B.C.’s Colon Screening Program. It measures the amount of blood in your stool sample. A positive (abnormal) result means that blood was found in your stool. Blood in the stool suggests an individual is at higher risk for having colon cancer.
  • FIT is recommended as a screening test every two years for those ages 50-74 who are of average risk.
  • If you have a positive FIT result, the Colon Screening Program recommends that you have a follow-up colonoscopy. Patients with positive FIT results who have their FIT result registered in the Program will automatically be referred to their health authority for a pre-colonoscopy assessment. 
  • A positive FIT result is common. More than 15 per cent of people test positive and are referred for colonoscopy.  A positive result does not mean that cancer was found.  As patients with a positive result are at greater risk for precancerous polyps or cancer, it is important to attend to follow-up procedures.
  • ‎The percentage of FITs testing positive is increasing at a rate higher than expected suggesting that more patients than normal are now testing positive. This does not mean that you have cancer – it simply means you should have follow up testing.
  • If you have questions about your test, speak with your health care provider. Despite the abnormal increase in positive results, we do recommend that all patients with positive FIT results do have follow up colonoscopy. Those with a negative FIT result will be reminded to rescreen in two years.
  • Speak with your health care provider if you are currently experiencing symptoms of colon cancer: visible blood in your stool, abdominal pain, a change in bowel habits or unexplained weight loss.

Yes, if you are due for rescreening, please see your health care provider for a requisition to pick up your FIT. Anyone ages 50-74 should screen for colon cancer every two years with the FIT.

  • ‎The Colon Screening Program recommends that all positive FIT results be followed-up with colonoscopy. Even if the second test is normal, the Colon Screening Program recommends follow-up colonoscopy.
  • No screening test is perfect. Some polyps and/or cancers may have been bleeding at the time of the first FIT but not bleeding when you took the second FIT. Or, the second sample (the negative result) was taken from a part of your stool that had a lesser amount or no blood.
  • All lab providers in B.C. for Fecal Occult Blood testing using FIT are experiencing an issue affecting the test results.
  • The percentage of positive results is increasing suggesting that some borderline negative results are now testing positive.
  • It is estimated that this change in the measurements will affect approximately 5% of patients tested -- i.e. they will now have a screen positive result whereas previously they would have had a borderline negative result.
  • While the positive predictive value of FIT screening may be lower than it has been in the past, a positive FIT still places the patient at higher risk. The Colon Screening Program recommends colonoscopy follow-up for all screen-positive cases.
  • The Colon Screening Program does not recommend ordering another FIT as it is not possible to know if the patient is truly negative for polyps/cancer or if the patient has intermittent bleeding of polyps. Follow-up colonoscopy is recommended even if a patient has another FIT that is negative.
  • Patients who have had a positive test result will continue to be referred to their health authority for pre-colonoscopy assessment. Please continue to communicate that this result is common (more than 15 per cent require further testing) and that it does not mean that cancer was found.
  • The Colon Screening Program does not recommend patients complete a guaiac-based FOBT instead of FIT.


  • Laboratory providers, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and BC Cancer’s Colon Screening Program decided to continue testing because FIT is an important screening test for colon cancer. We are confident that this option will ensure we can provide the best care to patients.
  • Colon cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed forms of cancer, affecting 1 in 6 people in B.C. In its early stages, there are often no symptoms- which is why screening is so important. Despite the current issue with the FIT test, it still identifies those individuals with a relatively high concentration of blood in their stool, an early warning sign of colon cancer. 


A normal result means that no blood was found in the stool sample you submitted. Screening finds many non-cancerous polyps and colon cancers, but no screening test is perfect. Regular screening offers the best chance of detecting the early signs of cancer. Current screening guidelines recommend re-testing every two years until age 74.

If you have bowel symptoms or other health concerns, contact your doctor.

An abnormal FIT result means that blood was found in the stool sample that you submitted. Abnormal FIT results are common and do NOT mean that you have cancer.  


On average, fifteen per cent of people screened with FIT will have an abnormal result and will require additional testing. This does not mean that a cancer was found – over 96 per cent of people with an abnormal FIT result will be found to not have cancer.

Some of these patients may have polyps, which are small growths that can develop in the colon or rectum, often with no symptoms in early stages of growth. Most polyps will never turn into cancer, and for those that do, it will take many years for this transition, which is why people between the ages of 50 to 74 years should be screened regularly.

For more information on what it means to have an abnormal FIT result, watch this video.


‎An abnormal FIT result simply means that blood was found in the stool sample that you submitted. FIT can only tell us that you may be bleeding from somewhere in your lower digestive tract. It cannot tell us from which part or why.


FIT is a screening test that can only detect blood in the stool. FIT is not a diagnostic test. This means that while FIT can find one sign that may indicate cancer (blood in the stool), it cannot be used to diagnose cancer. Furthermore, the level of blood present in your stool cannot be used to diagnose any conditions. A higher level of blood does NOT mean that you have cancer.

There may be a number of different reasons why blood was found in your stool, including hemorrhoids (sometimes painless or internal), ulcers, anal fissures, diverticular disease, or inflammation. If you have an abnormal FIT result, it is important that you attend all follow-up appointments to find out why the result was abnormal.

After you have received your abnormal FIT result in the mail, a patient coordinator will contact you. A patient coordinator is a nurse that works with your local health authority. He or she will assess your condition and book a colonoscopy procedure if appropriate, or let you know if other monitoring or treatment is advised.

Colonoscopy is a procedure that allows a colonoscopist to see the inside lining of the rectum and colon using a special instrument called a colonoscope. A colonoscope is a flexible tube with a miniature camera attached to one end so that the colonoscopist can take pictures and videos of your colon. During a colonoscopy, tissue samples can be collected and abnormal growths can be removed
No. The measurement of blood is not an indicator of cancer. If you have an abnormal result it just means more testing must be done in order to identify the cause.
The FIT is a good test, but no test is 100% accurate. There is a chance that a cancer can be missed if it was not bleeding when the screening test was taken. However, regular screening offers the best chance of detecting the early signs of cancer.











Colonoscopy

You will be given preliminary results before you leave the hospital. Then, approximately 2 weeks after your procedure, the patient coordinator or the colonoscopist will inform you of your complete results and answer your questions during the follow up call. Your doctor will also receive your results.

If your colonoscopy is normal, your personal history will determine when you will be re-screened. Your patient coordinator or colonoscopist will advise you of your next screening date.

If your colonoscopy is abnormal, further procedures or more regular surveillance may be necessary. The patient coordinator, colonoscopist, or your doctor will explain the process for further appointments and next steps.

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