Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT), part of the early screening process for colon cancer, has resumed in British Columbia after distribution of FIT kits was temporarily suspended in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 situation.
Eligible patients can pick up FIT kits from any public or private lab across the province with a referral from their health care provider. For patients who had picked up their FIT kit at the time of the testing suspension and have not completed it, now is the time to complete the test and return it to the lab. More information about FIT kits is available at www.screeningbc.ca/covid-19.
Labs in BC have introduced special measures to keep patients and staff safe from COVID-19. It is recommended that patients check with their preferred labs for any COVID-19 related procedures or instructions prior to picking up their FIT kit.
FIT is a routine screening test recommended for people between the ages of 50 and 74 with no symptoms of colon cancer. Symptoms can include blood in stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss. Patients with these symptoms should talk to their physician about the diagnostic testing needed to determine the cause of these symptoms. FIT is not appropriate for people with these symptoms.
Labs temporarily suspended the distribution of FIT kits in March 2020 for the following reasons:
- Colonoscopies were being cancelled or re-booked to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission during the procedure and to allow hospitals to better respond to the potential for a surge of COVID-19 patients requiring acute care.
- Not going to a lab to pick up or drop off a FIT kit supported physical distancing, which assisted in efforts to minimize COVID-19 transmission in healthy people.
Leader, Screening Promotions, BC Cancer
This post has not been peer reviewed by the BCMJ Editorial Board.