A clinical research study from Indiana University School of Medicine and the Regenstrief Institute examines the use, in emergency and inpatient settings, of FIT (fecal immunochemical testing), which looks for blood in stool, a possible sign of colorectal cancer. The researchers conclude that FIT should only be used for its validated indication of colorectal cancer screening and should not be used for evaluation of gastrointestinal bleeding, abdominal pain or iron deficiency anemia and other symptoms or problems that bring individuals to the hospital.
“FIT is a cancer screening tool, not a test for symptoms, for example, symptoms such as rectal bleeding, abdominal pain, or a change in bowel habit,” said study co-author Thomas F. Imperiale, M.D., of the Regenstrief Institute and IU School of Medicine. “Obtaining a FIT from an ED [emergency department] patient or an inpatient would be like ordering a mammogram or PAP smear for a woman in the hospital for pneumonia, heart failure or cellulitis. It is simply not appropriate in this setting. You don’t do a FIT in the hospital or inpatient setting where clinicians need to focus on active clinical problems and their outcomes rather than on screening.”