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December 14, 2017

Resumption of Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) Testing in BC

Fecal immunochemical testing, or FIT, part of the early screening process for colon cancer, has resumed following a temporary suspension in British Columbia.

In an abundance of caution, testing was suspended in October 2017 after a manufacturer problem was identified with the liquid solution, also known as a reagent, used to test the FIT samples.

Laboratory providers worked closely with the manufacturer to resolve the quality control concerns with the reagent. New batches of reagent have been approved for use following an extensive testing and quality assurance process.

The Colon Screening Program along with laboratory providers and health authority partners have a coordinated plan to notify patients about the resumption of testing, first addressing those patients for whom testing was delayed. 

Advice for Patients: 

  • Patients with existing FIT requisitions from their health care provider can bring their requisition to the laboratory beginning to receive their FIT kit. 
  • Patients who could not pick up a FIT kit or returned a FIT kit to LifeLabs, but did not receive a result due to the FIT suspension will be contacted by mail with instructions on how to proceed.
  • If you do not receive a letter in the mail by the end of January, please return to their health care provider to obtain a requisition for a FIT kit.  

For questions regarding the Colon Screening Program please visit: http://www.bccancer.bc.ca/screening/colon.

Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What is the status of FIT testing in BC?
FIT testing is available again in BC. Eligible patients can pick up FIT kits from LifeLabs locations across the province with a requisition from their health care provider. 

2.    Why was FIT testing unavailable?

On October 3, 2017, all lab providers in BC suspended Fecal Occult Blood testing using the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) due to a manufacturer reagent problem. 

The reagent is a liquid solution that is used in the testing of FIT samples.  

3.    What has been done to resolve the FIT testing issue?               
LifeLabs has worked closely with the manufacturer to resolve problems related to the reagent (liquid solution) used to test FIT samples.
New batches of reagent have been validated following extensive testing and quality assurance processes.  

4.    Is the same FIT manufacturer being used?

The same FIT manufacturer is being used.

The manufacturer has provided new batches of reagent that have been validated following extensive testing and quality assurance processes.   

5.    How will LifeLabs ensure that problems with the reagent will be identified in the future? 

LifeLabs has set up quality checks to monitor test performance.  

Existing quality checks at BC Cancer that initially identified the problem will continue to monitor system-wide performance changes. 

6.    I’ve completed a FIT and submitted it to the lab, but did not receive a test result. What should I do? 

If you have not received the result of your test, it is likely that the lab was not able to perform the test on your sample. 

LifeLabs will be contacting patients by letter on how to proceed. If you do not receive a letter by the end of January, please return to your health care provider to obtain a requisition for a FIT kit.  

7.    I have an unused FIT kit. What should I do?  

If you have an unused and unopened FIT kit, you can complete the test and drop off your sample at LifeLabs. 

8.    I have a FIT requisition from my health care provider, but was unable to pick up a FIT due to the suspension of testing. What should I do? 

Patients with existing FIT requisitions from their health care provider can bring their requisition to LifeLabs to receive testing. 

9.    After I submit my new FIT test, when can I expect to receive my test results? 

It is anticipated that there may be modest delays in providing FIT results to providers during the initial re-introduction of FIT due to an increased volume of samples submitted. This will not affect the accuracy of submitted FITs. 

Expect your result to be available within 2 weeks. 

10. I’m a GP. What should I tell my patients? 

FIT testing through LifeLabs is available province-wide. Eligible patients can pick up FIT kits from any LifeLabs across the province with a referral from their health care provider. 

To learn more about colon screening eligibility guidelines, please visit the Colon Screening Program website at www.screeningbc.ca/colon  

11. I had a negative FIT result two years ago and am due for re-screening. What should I do? 

Please see your health care provider to get a laboratory requisition for FIT testing. 

The Colon Screening Program will begin to mail recall notices to patients that are due for re-screening. 

12. I received a positive result letter (blood in my stool) from the Colon Screening Program. What should I do? 

If you have any questions or concerns about your test results or next steps to take, please contact your doctor or the Colon Screening Program.  

13. I received a negative result letter (no blood in my stool) from the Colon Screening Program. What should I do? 

If you have any questions or concerns about your test results or next steps to take, please contact your doctor or the Colon Screening Program.  

14. I received a letter telling me I should repeat the test (unsatisfactory result letter) from the Colon Screening Program. What should I do? 

Please return to your health care provider to obtain a requisition. 

15. Has the suspension of FIT affected colonoscopy wait times?Health authorities are responsible for the service delivery of colonoscopies, and would be in the best position to provide information on current wait times. 

16. What if I have a significant family history of colon cancer or a personal history of adenoma(s)?

If you have any questions or concerns about your colon health, please contact your healthcare provider or the Colon Screening Program 

17. I’m currently experiencing symptoms.
If you have any questions or concerns about your colon health, please contact your doctor.  

For all other questions regarding the Colon Screening Program, please visit screeningbc.ca/colon

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