A new paper published today in the British Journal of General Practice Open, showed that patients who have colorectal cancer symptoms and undertake the faecal immunochemical test (FIT) at home to detect blood in stool, found it acceptable, practical and hygienic.

This is the first report of patient usability and perception of FIT in people with suspected colorectal cancer symptoms.

This research was led by Mr Theo Georgiou Delisle, a colorectal surgical research fellow at Croydon University Hospital. He was supported in this work by Mr Muti Abulafi, consultant colorectal surgeon at Croydon University Hospital and Professor Helen Ward, professor of public health at Imperial College London.

Mr Delisle co-developed a questionnaire with patients to measure variation in attitudes and perception of FIT in those with suspected colorectal cancer symptoms. It covered four themes: FIT feasibility, faecal aversion, patient knowledge, and future intentions

The survey and FIT kits were then sent to patients who participated in the NICE FIT study. A total of 1151 patients responded.

Results showed that a vast majority of patients found the faecal collection straightforward and agreed that FIT was hygienic.

There were differences identified in the perception of the test, with younger patients between 40-64 years of age less likely to prefer a FIT over colonoscopy. The willingness to use FIT again was stronger in patients who identified as white compared to non-white backgrounds.

These findings will help inform future strategies to engage with patients who have a negative perception of using FIT.

The British Journal of General Practice Open paper is available here. 

More information about the NICE FIT study available here.