Sixty-seven year old Elsie Garcia spent years ignoring her doctor's advice to have a colonoscopy. "I was afraid. I had heard several people tell me it was very uncomfortable," Garcia said.
But she was willing to take a relatively simple at home test called the fecal immunochemical test----or 'FIT.' Kaiser Permanente researchers reviewed previous studies and found the tests detect about 80 percent of colon cancers. "The reasoning is that early colorectal cancers bleed," said Dr. Elizabeth Liles with Kaiser's Center for Health Research. "The test is meant to pick up on that bleeding and if positive a colonoscopy is then warranted."
The review also showed FIT tests that used just one fecal sample were just as accurate as tests that required two or three. Oncologist Joanna Schottinger recommends yearly FIT tests for average risk patients between 50 and 75. "If you're at higher risk of colon cancer because you have a family history, or you've had a polyp before... ...than you should get screened earlier and your screening should involve colonoscopy," she said.
Garcia's fit test came back positive. A colonoscopy confirmed she had cancer, but surgeons were able to remove it.
Reporter Bigad Shaban: How did taking the test change your life?
Elsie Garcia: I really feel it saved my life.
Garcia has been cancer free for six years and hopes the ease and convenience of FIT tests will encourage more people to stop putting off screening.
Bigad Shaban - CBS News
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