New test for colorectal cancer

toilet

Have you heard about FIT? We’re not talking about physical activity levels. FIT refers to fecal immunochemical test, which detects blood in stool (poop), an early sign of colorectal cancer and/or pre-cancerous polyps. As of June 24, Ontario has started replacing the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) with the FIT as part of Cancer Care Ontario’s screening program for colorectal cancer. While both tests detect hidden blood in the stool, FIT is more accurate and easier to use.

“Colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable types of cancer,” says Dr. David Baron, a Gastroenterologist at North York General Hospital. “Taking a FIT, when advised by your family doctor or nurse practitioner, is a simple step that can prevent cancer or catch the disease in an early stage, when treatment is most effective.”

When should I take a FIT?

Primary care providers will recommend a FIT for patients who are considered “average risk” (anyone between the ages of 50 to 74 with no family history of colorectal cancer). The testing kit is ordered by the primary care provider from LifeLabs, which will be mailed directly to the patient’s home where the test is taken.

Once the test is completed, patients simply drop it off at a LifeLabs for analysis. Test results are sent back to the primary care provider.

What if the test is positive?

If the result is normal, patients should be re-screened with a FIT in two years if they continue to meet the ColonCancerCheck eligibility criteria for average risk.

If the test comes back positive for blood in the stool, patients need to be referred for colonoscopy as soon as possible.

RN Karyn Fernandes and Dr. David Baron
RN Karyn Fernandes and Dr. David Baron provide patients with a comfortable and supportive environment during a colonoscopy.

Scheduling a colonoscopy at North York General

During a colonoscopy a physician inserts a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached at the end, into the rectum. They use the camera to examine the lining of the colon and detect polyps (which can cause cancer) or other abnormalities. If polyps are detected they can be removed on the spot.

Our expert team of gastroenterologists and general surgeons perform more than 7,000 colonoscopies a year.

Here at NYGH, we are committed to continue improving access to care; we are currently meeting all Cancer Care Ontario wait time targets. North York General Hospital can provide an appointment for a FIT positive colonoscopy within two weeks (10 business days) of receiving a referral from a primary care provider.  

“It’s not uncommon that when people hear the word colonoscopy they get nervous, however our experience is that these fears can be conquered with a better understanding of the steps involved,” says Dr. Baron. “At North York General, we provide a calm and relaxed environment and ensure patients are comfortable throughout the procedure."

As part of NYGH’s streamlined process, the results of a FIT positive colonoscopy are sent to the patient’s primary care provider the following business day.

Next steps

If the colonoscopy reveals the need for further testing, patients will automatically receive expedited and automatic diagnostic workup and surgical consults through NYGH's Colorectal Cancer Program.

Over the last five years, NYGH is proud to have been awarded the Cancer Care Ontario top performer award for the best wait times from decision to treat to surgery and for the last three years the top performer for the time to referral to surgical consult.

Learn more

Read:

Conquering your colonoscopy fears

Watch:

Meet Michelle, NYGH’s Colorectal Cancer Patient Navigator

This article first appeared in the July-August 2019 issue of The Pulse. Subscribe now. 

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