RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death for men and women, and now there is a new, easier way to detect it.
A "Fit Kit" is an at-home alternative that screens for colon cancer by detecting blood in fecal matter. A person doesn't have to miss a day of work or go through all the preparations a colonoscopy requires.
The kit is a white envelope containing instructions, a tissue sheet to place in the toilet to collect a stool sample, a test tube, a biohazard bag and an envelope to return the kit in.
If blood is detected in the stool, then the person gets a colonoscopy. If it comes back negative, than they don't have to.
This is for routine screening of people who are not at risk and must be performed once a year.
The Health Brigade in Richmond conducted a pilot program, where 85 kits were distributed in a 10-month period. 66 tests were completed, and six came back positive for blood in the stool. The people with completed FIT kits that tested positive were referred to for colonoscopies. Of the six completed colonoscopies, all six revealed abnormal premalignant polyps that were removed.
Wendy Klein, the medical director for Health Brigade, said they had a high success rate with a 78 percent return. She said the average rate of patients returning tests is around 50 percent.
"Here is a way to prevent cancer, to screen for it, to save lives," Klein said. "We hope to inform everyone about the importance of this and the availability of these fit kits. You need to ask your own provider."
Dawna Collins was one of the patients who used the FIT screening. She just turned 50 and was due for her first colonoscopy but didn't have to get one because her kit came back negative.
"I watched the video here at the clinic to make sure I understood the instructions and read the instructions that came with the kit," Collins said. "You get a sample of your fecal material, apply it, send it back or drop it off at the clinic. It's simple."
The FIT colon screenings are cheaper than colonoscopies. A person should find out more information from their doctor and find out from their insurance company about whether they cover the kits.
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