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Making FIT Count: Maximizing Appropriate Use of the Fecal Immunochemical Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening Programs.

Cusumano VT, May FP. Making FIT Count: Maximizing Appropriate Use of the Fecal Immunochemical Test for Colorectal Cancer Screening Programs. Journal of general internal medicine. 2020 Jun 1; 35(6):1870-1874.

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Colorectal cancer (CRC) remains one of the most common and deadly malignancies despite advancements in screening, diagnostic capabilities, and treatment. The ability to detect and remove precancerous and cancerous lesions via screening has altered the epidemiology of the disease, decreasing incidence, mortality, and late-stage disease presentation. The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a screening test that aims to detect human hemoglobin in the stool. FIT is the most common CRC screening modality worldwide and second most common in the United States. Its use in screening programs has been shown to increase screening uptake and improve CRC outcomes. However, FIT-based screening programs vary widely in quality and effectiveness. In health systems with high-quality FIT screening programs, only superior FIT formats are used, providers order FIT appropriately, annual patient participation is high, and diagnostic follow-up after an abnormal result is achieved in a timely manner. Proper utilization of FIT involves multiple steps beyond provider recommendation of the test. In this commentary, we aim to highlight ongoing challenges in FIT screening and suggest interventions to maximize FIT effectiveness. Through active engagement of patients and providers, health systems can use FIT to help optimize CRC screening rates and improve CRC outcomes.

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