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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.

What if I get a normal test result?
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.

What if I get an abnormal result?
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.

What causes an abnormal result?
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.

What happens after an abnormal FIT result?  
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.

What is a colonoscopy? 
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

If I have a high amount of blood in my stool, does that mean that I have cancer?
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.

How reliable is the test?
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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