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Cancer screening tests on hold due to COVID-19. Find out more at Cancer Screening During COVID-19.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) Instructions

The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is a safe and painless test that checks your stool (poop) for tiny amounts of blood, which can be caused by colorectal cancer or some pre-cancerous polyps (growths in the colon or rectum that can turn into cancer over time). You can do this test at home and it only takes a few minutes. You do not have to change your diet or stop taking medication to do the test.

To get your free FIT, talk with your family doctor or nurse practitioner. If you do not have a doctor or nurse practitioner, you can get a FIT by contacting Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-828-9213. If you are in the North West region or the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand Brant region, you can get a FIT from a mobile screening coach. If you live on a First Nation reserve, contact your health centre or nursing station for more information.

Once a FIT has been ordered for you, LifeLabs will mail a FIT package to your Ontario mailing address of choice.

The fecal immunochemical test package includes everything you need to complete the test

Before you do the test, make sure your FIT package has everything you need:

  • Return envelope
  • Stool collection paper
  • Plastic bag with absorbent material
  • FIT tube
  • FIT instructions
  • FIT letter (with information about the screening test and how to return your sample)
  • Privacy notice

Download the FIT Letter

The FIT Letter is available in 32 languages. Please select a language to download the file.

Storing the Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) Before You Complete It

  • Try to do your FIT as soon as possible after getting it in the mail. If you wait too long, you might have to do it again.
  • Check the expiry date printed on the FIT tube. After this time, you cannot do the FIT and the lab cannot test it.
  • If your FIT is expiring soon, make sure you send your completed FIT (the FIT tube with your stool or poop sample in it) to the lab at least 2 weeks before the expiry date. If your FIT is expired, call LifeLabs at 1-833-676-1426.
  • Also be sure to send your completed FIT to the lab within 6 months of when the test was ordered for you. After 6 months, your FIT cannot be tested by the lab.

Appropriate Use of FIT

  • If you see blood in your stool (poop), toilet bowl or on the toilet paper when you wipe, speak to your family doctor or nurse practitioner because you may need other tests. Your family doctor or nurse practitioner may do a physical exam and may ask you to see a specialist to have a flexible sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy instead.
  • If you are bleeding from diagnosed hemorrhoids, or are menstruating (having a period), wait until you have stopped bleeding for 3 days before you do your FIT. If you are bleeding more often than every 3 days, talk to your family doctor or nurse practitioner to see if FIT is the right test for you.
  • If you have undergone dental work that resulted in bleeding, you should wait 3 days before you do your FIT.

Stool (Poop) Contact with Toilet Water

  • The FIT package includes a thin piece of paper (stool collection paper) that you should unfold and place on top of the toilet water before you poop. This paper will help prevent your stool from touching too much of the toilet water. You can flush the paper down the toilet after you collect your stool.
  • When you collect your stool, use the FIT stick to scrape along the part of your stool that is not touching the toilet water.
  • It is best to flush the toilet before you take the test to get rid of any chemicals or urine from the toilet.
  • If you have to urinate (pee), try to urinate and flush the toilet before unfolding and placing the stool collection paper on top of the toilet water. If your toilet has a cleaning product that stays in the bowl (like a puck or a different built-in toilet cleaner), you should consider taking out the toilet cleaner first or using another toilet.

Flushing the Stool (Poop) Collection Paper

  • Place the stool (poop) collection paper on top of the toilet water before you poop. This paper helps prevent your stool from mixing with the toilet water. You can flush the paper down the toilet after you take your stool sample.
  • The stool collection paper is biodegradable and safe to use for septic systems.
  • If you prefer, instead of using the stool collection paper, you can place several layers of toilet paper on top of the toilet water or use a clean disposable container (e.g., a foil plate) to take your stool sample.

Storing and Returning Your Completed FIT

Returning Your Completed FIT

  • To avoid having to do the test again, it is important to return your completed FIT as soon as possible. It is best to mail it or drop it off within 2 days of doing the FIT because it needs to arrive at LifeLabs for testing within 14 days of collecting your stool. If you live on a First Nation reserve, you can contact your health centre or nursing station to find out where to drop off your FIT.
  • Planning is important! Try to collect your stool at a time when you can get it back to LifeLabs as soon as possible (within 14 days). If you plan to mail your completed FIT back to LifeLabs, be aware of possible mailing delays, such as mailing over a long weekend. You can also drop-off your completed FIT at a LifeLabs Patient Service Centre.
  • For drop-off locations and hours, visit the LifeLabs Location Finder
  • If you have questions about how to return your completed FIT, call LifeLabs at 1-833-676-1426.

Storing Your Completed FIT

  • There are no specific storage requirements, however if you cannot return your completed FIT right away, you can choose to keep it in the fridge for a short period of time. Be careful not to forget to return your test by storing it somewhere out of sight, like a refrigerator drawer or in the glove compartment of a parked car.
  • Remember, even if your sample is stored in the fridge, LifeLabs must get it within 14 days of completing the test.

What Happens Next?

  • After you mail or drop-off your test, you can expect to get your result by mail in the next few weeks.
  • If your test result is abnormal, it does not necessarily mean that you have colorectal cancer or polyps that could become cancer, but it does mean that additional testing is needed. ColonCancerCheck recommends that people with an abnormal result have a colonoscopy within 8 weeks. For more information on abnormal test results and colonoscopy see the Abnormal FIT Result Frequently Asked Questions page.
  • If your test result is normal, you should get screened in 2 years using FIT. It is important to keep getting screened with FIT every 2 years until age 74.
  • If LifeLabs cannot get a result from your test, you will need to repeat it. 

Problems with Your Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

  • If there are any problems with your FIT for example, if your FIT is lost or damaged, call LifeLabs at 1-833-676-1426.