HealthDay News — Fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) can consistently detect colorectal cancer when used on an annual basis, and they are effective even in the second, third, and fourth years of screening, according to a study published online January 26 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Douglas Corley, MD, PhD, MPH, a research scientist with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., and colleagues tracked annual FITs performed on 323,349 Kaiser Permanente patients in California during a four-year period.

The first year of screening with FITs detected colorectal cancer in 84.5% of participants who were diagnosed with the disease. The effectiveness of the FIT varied between 73 and 78% in years two through four.

Corley noted that this study focused on the standard FIT used for colorectal cancer screening, and not a new FDA-approved test called Cologuard. The new test combines the FIT with an additional genetic scan for DNA biomarkers that have been linked to colorectal cancer. Cologuard has been shown to detect more cancers than a standard FIT, but it is more expensive and has only been evaluated as a one-time test. “No one knows how frequently to do Cologuard, because there have been no studies that look at how well it does over time,” Corley told HealthDay.

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