Colon screening test for average-risk patients resumes in BC

Issue: BCMJ, Vol. 60, No. 1, January, February 2018, page(s) 58 Pulsimeter

Fecal immunochemical testing (FIT), part of the early screening process for colon cancer, resumed on 15 December 2017 following a temporary suspension. Eligible patients can pick up FIT kits from any public or private lab across the province with a referral from their health care provider.

Testing was suspended in October 2017 after a manufacturer problem was identified with the reagent used to test the FIT samples. New batches of reagent have been approved for use following extensive testing and quality assurance process.  

The Colon Screening Program, along with laboratory providers and health authority partners, has a coordinated plan to notify patients about the resumption of testing, first addressing those patients for whom testing was delayed.

Health care providers are advised that:
•    Asymptomatic patients aged 50 to 74 can be referred for FIT using the Standard Outpatient Lab Requisition every 2 years.
•    Patients with existing FIT requisitions from their health care provider may bring their requisition to the laboratory to receive their FIT kit. 
•    Patients who could not pick up a FIT kit or those who completed FIT but did not receive a result due to the FIT suspension may be contacted by their laboratory provider. Each laboratory will determine the most appropriate approach for contacting their patients. Most laboratories are considering giving notice with instructions to patients by mail or telephone. Every effort will be made to contact patients.

FIT is a routine screening test recommended for men and women between the ages of 50 and 74. FIT is designed for people who do not have symptoms and are considered at average risk of colon cancer. It detects blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of colon cancer. Those with abnormal test results are referred for a follow-up colonoscopy.

Patients with a strong family history of colon cancer or a personal history of adenomas were not affected by the test suspension and continued to be referred directly to the Colon Screening Program for colonoscopy. Patients with symptoms that may indicate cancer were not affected by this test suspension.
For more information regarding the Colon Screening Program, visit www.screeningbc.ca/colon.

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