New Test Makes Colorectal Cancer Screenings Easier

Routine colorectal cancer screening has been shown to reduce deaths through the early diagnosis and removal of pre-cancerous polyps. A new and easy way to complete this vital screening is the fecal immunochemical test (FIT), also called an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT).

What Is a FIT screening?
This test detects occult (hidden) blood in the stool—a sign of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. This test should be done once a year and if positive, should be followed up with a sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy. The FIT is now included among the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force’s recommended screenings for colorectal cancer along with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy.

Advantages of a FIT screening
There are many good reasons to use a FIT screening, including:

  • No preparation required
  • No risks involved
  • Inexpensive and usually covered by insurance
  • No special changes to medicines or diets
  • Only one stool sample needed 

The FIT is done essentially the same way as the FOBT, except that the FOBT does come with drug or dietary restrictions and requires three stool samples.

The Goal Is to Detect Colorectal Cancer Early
According to the 2010 Oregon State Cancer Registry, Oregon’s colorectal cancer mortality was slightly above the national rate and over half of all colorectal cancers were diagnosed at a late stage. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is using colorectal cancer screenings as one of the quality health metrics to show how well coordinated care organizations are improving care, making quality care accessible, eliminating health disparities, and curbing the rising cost of health care.

Review these OHA guidance documents for information about what counts for IHN-CCO as a colorectal cancer screening and the specific codes that providers can utilize for these services:

IHN-CCO OHA guidance document for colorectal cancer screenings
IHN-CCO Measure details for colorectal cancer screenings

Ordering information for Samaritan providers
There are two ways for Samaritan providers to order these tests. The item number for Materials (stores) is #070563. To order the tests in EPIC, use the lab code LAB4110.

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