Kick the poo taboo: Taking your FIT test

Kick the poo taboo: Taking your FIT test

Written by Caleb Johnson

Your favourite things to see on a stick may be the olives in your Martini on a Saturday night, but that’s not the type of cocktail we’re shaking up today. If you’re over 40, chances are you’ve heard of a FIT test. The FIT test is the first line of defence in bowel cancer detection, and after the age of 50, the NHS will automatically enrol you in their screening program.  

You don’t have to wait for the ending credits on this screen, to find out that to run this test, you’re going to have to send your poop to a lab. Yes, we’re talking about staring the brown abyss right in the face. And this is why it’s so important. 

Bowel Cancer is the 4th most common cancer and the 2nd most common cause of cancer death. As we’ve traversed through the years of research and science, we’ve managed to find ourselves in the lucky position of nailing down some of the easiest tells of this deadly poker player.  

In this case, you’ve got an ace up your sleeve – the FIT test. No, it has nothing to do with jumping rope without tripping. FIT stands for (Faecal Immunochemical Test), and it can help spot bowel cancer early on, as well as point to a host of other issues.  

However, 30% of people invited to take a bowel cancer screening test don’t take it, which leaves us with a question. Why don’t more people take this potentially lifesaving test? 

This week, we’ve partnered with (Wype/Selph) to break down the stigma around our poop and empower you to take part in your FIT test. By taking hold of the reins and breaking down this taboo within your everyday relationships, you could be saving a life.  

Let’s talk through the poo taboo 

Now that you’re thinking about these FIT tests, you’ll be wondering how much poop travels through the mail on a daily basis. You thought those leaflets you get in the mail were annoying? Think of the people at the lab, getting only poo in their mail! That’s quite the reverse Christmas, if you ask us!

However, while our helpful poo elves don’t seem to mind the sifting (it’s for a good cause after all), the trouble starts at the source! When researchers interviewed a group of people on why they didn’t take their bowel cancer screening test, the fact that faeces is seen as a socially inappropriate taboo substance shone through in the results. 

Interestingly yet not surprisingly, they also noted that opening up and talking about the stool sampling process with friends and family "appeared to normalise the unusual, unexpected and potentially taboo aspects of [stool sampling]". It makes sense too, open conversation, having a laugh about it and taking the edge off the poop talk is sure to make everyone feel a bit jollier about the exercise.  

Collecting a sample of the forbidden chocolate yule isn’t exactly going to satisfy your sweet tooth, however, it’s totally normal. So normal that 3,194,565 took theirs last year (and that’s just 60–74-year-olds). 

If you’re feeling unsure or worried about taking your FIT test, why not bring it up to a friend or family and ask if they’ve ever done it? Sure, it might be a little awkward, but you’ll both probably feel much better about it afterwards. Better yet, if you know someone who should be taking one, why not bring it up? You could quite literally be saving their life.  

Bowel cancer screening – We understand the worry 

We can't blame ourselves for feeling reluctant to seek help, what happens with our bowels is personal, and speaking aloud our troubles can be embarrassing. However, a lot of these problems can seriously impact our quality of life or even be life-threatening.  

Think your chocolate starfish is one of a kind? Well, around 1 million colonoscopies are performed in the UK each year, and that’s health practitioners looking inside people’s starfishes, let alone just generally looking at them! There’s really nothing they haven’t heard or seen, and as much as we hate to say it, the sight of your anus is not as groundbreaking to them as it is to you. 

We have to remember that medical professionals are specifically trained to deal with these issues and see them all day, every day, we have to put our embarrassment aside and do what's best for our health. 

Don’t let the myths get you down 

There are a lot of myths and half-truths too, which easily carry reality out of the back door and leave us with nothing but worry. Take rectal bleeding, for example, nearly everyone has experienced this at some point.  

Who hasn't been visited by a few streaks of blood on the paper from time to time? The vast, vast majority of the time this is just piles (haemorrhoids) or a small tear in the anus called a fissure. Very rarely is this something more sinister like bowel cancer.  

That's not to say you shouldn’t get bleeding checked out if it's persistent and you're not confident of the cause. You absolutely should, just as you would if you persistently bleeding from any other body part. Even if it is bowel cancer, the sooner it's picked up, the easier it is to treat. Again, think about what you would advise for a friend or relative. 

Taking that FIT test at the right time 

The early bird catches the worm, and the early FIT test catches things before they become a more complicated issue. When we catch things early (at the localised stage), bowel cancer usually has around a 90% survival rate, which is amazing!  

For example, if you're diagnosed at the screening stage, you're much more likely to be diagnosed with early-stage (1 or 2) bowel cancer which is much easier to treat. However, unfortunately, over half of people diagnosed with bowel cancer have the disease that has spread to the glands or other organs - stage 3 or 4 - making it harder to treat. This is why bowel cancer screening is so important! 

In fact, you're three times more likely to survive bowel cancer if it's picked up on screening compared to being picked up because you have symptoms. However, we can’t catch things early if we don’t get tested! Starting to see the trend here? 

So, if you get sent a screening test, should you do it?  


Ideally, you should be screening from your 40s like they do in the USA where survival rates are much higher. The NHS lacks the resources to do this, and this is where private providers come in. You should also be screening every year, rather than every other year which is what the current programme provides. Again, this is only something you’re able to do through a private provider.  

FIT tests are also really simple to take, so you don’t have to worry about ending up with all the wrong things in all the wrong places.  

How to take a FIT test 

Taking a fit test is easy, nothing like that IKEA desk you tried putting together, only to call your partner in to take it apart and start from scratch! 

All you do is capture your stool in a handy little container (or you can grab some cling film and cover your toilet bowl), scrape the little green stick along the stool to collect a small amount, and then push it into the tube! So simple! 

You then just pop it into its postage packaging and send it off, that’s all there is to it, no biggie. If you're a visual learner, here’s a video to show you how to do it properly!  

What happens in the lab 

When the lab receives your precious sample, they’ll look for traces of haemoglobin (found in your blood) to see if there is any present in your stool. You might not even be able to see it when you check your poo or toilet paper, it’s sneaky, but these sensitive tests will be able to scope out the brown terrain in no time.  

If there is above a certain level of blood in the stool sample, the test will come back positive, and if there are no traces, it will come back negative. 

After this, you’ll be informed of your result and whether there are any further tests needed.  

What if my test comes back positive 

If it turns out that there are traces of blood in your stool, it’s always a good idea to go and see a doctor. Now, there’s no need to worry about what will go down on your first trip there. Usually, the doctor will do a general inspection of your backside. They’ll be looking for any obvious indications of why blood was found in your stool, like haemorrhoids or fissures. They might gently insert their finger too to feel just inside. 

If everything seems fine, you’re good to go! If there’s something more to explore, you may be asked to come in for a colonoscopy. It’s natural to be wary about the butt camera, as it’s something completely outside of our usual activities. However, these health practitioners have done it plenty of times before and you’ll be in safe hands. You'll also have the option to be slightly sedated during a colonoscopy, so you’ll barely feel a thing!  

As we mentioned before, most of the time, the reason we find blood in our stool is not because of bowel cancer. However, there are other conditions like inflammatory bowel disease which can be diagnosed through this process, which can then be treated. There’s really nothing to lose by partaking in a FIT test! 

The bottom line

FIT tests are never going to be glamorous, and many health-related tests aren’t! However, that should never stop us from keeping our health and wellness a top priority. We believe that knowledge is poo-wer, as when we know our back alleys inside and out, nothing can jump out from the dark to scare us.

Being open and talking about FIT tests & bottom care allows us all to feel more comfortable addressing situations going on below the waist. It makes everything less alien. It’s time to kick the poo taboo and take control of our health. Hopefully, now you feel as though you can go forward and take your FIT test and take care of your bottom health.

If you’ve been thinking about taking a FIT test, or you’re encouraging a loved one to take the test, let us introduce you to SELPH, the UK's most trusted online provider of diagnostic tests. We’ve teamed up with SELPH to offer you 15% off of their qFIT tests for the month of April, Bowel Cancer Awareness Month. Use code WYPE15 at checkout to add your discount here.

Want to upgrade your bottom care routine? Why not try Wype’s soothing, moisturising and cleansing toilet paper gel? With Wype’s natural & organic formula, you can say goodbye to irritation, soreness and dry & cracked skin. Ready to take your toilet game to the next level?


 FIT Test FAQs

What exactly is a FIT test, and how does it differ from other bowel cancer screening methods like colonoscopies??
A FIT test, or Faecal Immunochemical Test, is a non-invasive screening method for detecting signs of blood in the stool, which can be an indication of various gastrointestinal conditions, including bowel cancer. Unlike colonoscopies, which involve inserting a camera into the colon, FIT tests are done at home by collecting a small stool sample and sending it to a laboratory for analysis.
What age groups should consider taking FIT tests, and are there any specific guidelines for frequency of testing?
FIT tests are typically recommended for individuals over the age of 50, and in the UK, the NHS automatically enrolls individuals into their screening program starting at this age. However, it's important to note that private providers may offer FIT testing for individuals in their 40s, which is often recommended for higher-risk populations.
How accurate are FIT tests in detecting bowel cancer, and what other health conditions can they potentially indicate?
FIT tests are highly accurate in detecting blood in the stool, which can be an early indicator of bowel cancer. Additionally, FIT tests can also point to other gastrointestinal issues, such as inflammatory bowel disease. While FIT tests are effective, they may not detect all cases of bowel cancer or other conditions, so follow-up testing may be necessary in some cases.

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