qFIT Test the new detection test tackling bowel cancer

The qFIT test – the new detection test tackling Bowel Cancer


The qFIT test cheeks for bleeding from the gastrointestinal tract. Bowel cancer is the 4th most common cancer and the 2nd most common cause of death in the UK. This makes it a strong target for new and innovative detection technologies. Early detection is vital for potential intervention and cure with any disease. However, we still see the majority of cases not being diagnosed early due to a lack of knowledge or understanding of symptoms.

Bowel cancer is an all-inclusive term for cancer in the large bowel or colon and the back passage or the rectum. Abnormal cells start to divide and grow in an uncontrollable way which can lead to the possibility of unwanted cells spreading to other parts of the body.

To help minimise this progression, a simple test to help diagnose possible symptoms leading to potential intervention is the most successful tool we have in reducing these statistics. Most, but by no means all bowel cancers start off as polyps. The majority of polyps remain small and harmless. Some, however, develop into malignant cancers that can invade into the wall of the colon. The progression from harmless polyp to cancer can occur over 10 or so years. So, screening can provide an excellent tool in our armoury against cancer in this 10-year window of opportunity.

The new qFIT (Quantitative Faecal Immunochemical Test) testing package is a tool used for primary screening for patients without symptoms such as bleeding or change in bowel habit. It is also sometimes as a management guide for patients with symptoms. The simple stool sample test does not look for cancerous cells specifically. However, it detects certain antibodies and blood in the stool that could develop into cancerous symptoms. This is used as the first line of detection to allow for further testing if needed to identify the cause. The next line of testing is usually direct visualisation of the colon with a colonoscopy.

This new test, is now offered here at Coyne Medical. We use it as part of our health screenings and opportunistically in GP appointments for patients who are suitable. FIT Testing has been shown to detect twice as many cancers and four times as many advanced polyps as the previous test, making it the most effective point of call for early detection.

How The Test Is Carried Out

Fit testing is carried out on a small amount of stool. We give you a special container for the sample and detailed instructions on how to do the test. You obtain the stool sample from stool passed into the disposable container we provide you with. The stool should not come into contact with the toilet water. The qFIT test requires only one stool sample and does not need any medications to be stopped. In addition, no alterations to diet are needed. When you have done the sample it can be mailed back to the laboratory. The process the results as soon as they receive the sample. It’s important to send it back to the lab as soon as possible. This is because delayed processing of the sample has been associated with lower detection of adenomas.

Be Symptom Aware

Whether or not you are planning to have a qFIT test done. It is very important to be aware of the symptoms of bowel cancer. These include:

  • Tummy pain
  • Change in bowel habit
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Bleeding from the back passage
  • Bloating of the tummy
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Fatigue, lack of energy and shortness of breath on exertion

For people between the ages of 40-74 years, we recommend having a screening annually. In the UK and some other countries, the testing is less frequent and one study in the Netherlands did show that screening every three years resulted in the same population positivity rate. However, if you have any relevant family history, a simple concern or would like to find out more information about symptoms or the test itself, please contact us on 020 7731 3077.