August 16, 2017
Polyp removal
Wellness Tip

Positive Stool Test? Don't Delay Colonoscopy

by Berkeley Wellness  |  

If you get a positive result on a fecal immunochemical test (FIT) for colorectal cancer, don’t delay the required follow-up colonoscopy. Postponing it increases the risk that cancer or precancerous polyps will develop, according to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Annual FIT, one of the recommended screening tests, detects blood in stool that is likely to be caused by cancer or an advanced polyp. During a follow-up colonoscopy, a doctor can identify and remove the growth, if there is one, before it has time to progress.

Researchers compared data on 70,000 Kaiser Permanente members in California who had positive FIT results and found that those who waited 10 months or longer before having a colon­oscopy were 50 percent more likely to have colorectal cancer, and at a more advanced stage, than those who had a colonoscopy within 30 days of their FIT results. And the longer they waited, the worse the prognosis.

It may take time to arrange for a colonoscopy, of course, but it should be done as soon as possible after a positive FIT result—at least within the next few months.

Also see Do You Need a Colonoscopy?