Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Once you have the prescription, go to a specimen collection centre near you to get the screening test. Have your health insurance card on hand, and call before you go to make sure there are specimen collection kits available.
"The colon cancer screening test allows detecting pre-cancerous legions that can easily and safely be removed before they turn into cancer. If necessary, your case will be turned over to a qualified medical specialist who will take care of you from that point on,” explains Dr Mélanie Bélanger, President and Spokesperson of the Association des gastro-entérologues du Québec.
The colorectal cancer screening test detects blood in the stool that is invisible to the naked eye. If the FIT reveals traces of blood in the stool, i.e. a positive result, then the doctor will recommend further investigation in the form of a colonoscopy to establish a diagnosis.
A colonoscopy is a procedure that allows seeing inside the large intestine to check for precancerous polyps.
The Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
- No prior preparation needed.
- A free test that can be obtained at a specimen collection centre with a prescription.
- The test is done by the patient, at home, by collecting a small stool (poop) sample, with minimal handling required.
- A fast and easy test to take in the comfort of your own home.
Diagnostic test (colonoscopy)
- The patient takes a laxative on the day before and on the day of the procedure and must abstain from certain foods and medications.
- The procedure is ordered by a doctor if the FIT result is positive or if a patient is high risk.
- The procedure is performed by a gastroenterologist in-office or in hospital. Patients must be accompanied and cannot drive for 24 hours after the procedure.
- While it carries some risks, this procedure is necessary when the FIT result is positive.
To learn more about the benefits and limitations of these tests, the Canadian Cancer Society encourages you to consult your family doctor or a doctor from a walk-in clinic.
You may be at higher risk if you have:
- a parent, sibling or child with colorectal cancer
- a personal history of colorectal cancer
- a personal history of non-cancerous (benign) polyps in the colon or rectum
- inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- inherited conditions, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (also called hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer, or HNPCC)
- signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer
Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher risk, you may need a personal plan for testing.
For any other questions, contact the Canadian Cancer Society by email or by phone at 1888 9393333.