Veterans now have the opportunity to receive at-home colorectal cancer screening kits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a colorectal cancer screening test that you can complete in the privacy of your home. The test works by detecting small amounts of blood in the stool. These easy-to-perform tests improve access and encourage people who may be intimidated by traditional colorectal cancer screening methods to get tested.
Veterans can receive a test kit from their VA medical provider. It includes everything needed to complete the screening, including a brush or stick to collect a sample. Once a sample is collected, mail the kit back to VA or drop it off at a lab.
Regular screenings may decrease risk of dying from colorectal cancer upwards of 68%. About one third of adults ages 50 to 75 in the U.S. — the age where most colon cancers are diagnosed — have never been screened.
Colorectal cancer screening is recommended for veterans 45 to 75 years old and of average risk. Veterans at higher risk may be recommended by their provider to be screened before age 45. Talk to your provider if you have a family history of colon or rectal cancer or if you experience any of the following:
-Blood in stool; or black or dark brown stool
-Change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation
-Unexplained weight loss
-Abdominal pain and bloating
Many people do not have symptoms from colon cancer until the later stages of cancer. To minimize your risk, it is recommended that people quit smoking, maintain healthy weight and activity levels, and limit alcohol consumption.
To learn more about the FIT kits and colorectal cancer screening, visit cancer.va.gov.