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Published on March 04, 2020

Free FIT tests for National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Gyamfi

In support of National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, this March the laboratory at Southeastern Regional Medical Center (SRMC) will be offering fecal immunochemistry tests (FIT) free for patients. The kits must be requested through a provider between March 1 and March 31, 2020.

The American Cancer Society recommends regular screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45. When the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force ranked current available tests for this screening, the first tier includes either an annual FIT or a screening colonoscopy once every 10 years.

“The colonoscopy is the gold standard for screening, but a once-a-year FIT screening is acceptable for patients who might prefer not to have a colonoscopy screening,” said Dr. Kwadwo Agyei-Gyamfi, a gastroenterologist on medical staff with Southeastern Health and in private practice with Acme Medical Specialists.

FIT uses a stool sample taken at home by the patient. The kits are ordered and provided to the patient at their doctor’s office and then the patient mails the completed kit to Quest Diagnostics for testing. Quest Diagnostics will return the results to the SRMC lab, where they will be entered into the patient’s electronic records.

“The incidence of colorectal cancer in Robeson County is one of the highest in the state of North Carolina,” said Dr. Agyei-Gyamfi. “When caught early through screening, these types of cancer are very treatable. The most effective thing doctors can do to decrease deaths from colorectal cancer is to increase the number of patients who are screened.”

Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that in Robeson County, between 2012 and 2016, the rate for colorectal cancer diagnosis was 43 people out of 100,000. In that same time frame, the state’s overall rate was 37.1 per 100,000 people. The American Cancer Society estimates that one in three patients in the U.S. are not up to date with a colorectal cancer screening.

To receive a free FIT screening kit, patients should speak with their provider about requesting one of the tests available at the SRMC lab. If your FIT is positive, your provider will refer you to have a colonoscopy to determine if you have colon cancer or precancerous polyps.