What to expect

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What to expect during Colorectal Cancer Screening


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


If you have undergone dental work that resulted in bleeding, you should wait 3 days before you do your FIT.

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.

Follow the instructions that come in your FIT Test package. 

Things to keep in mind during screening:

  • 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 your FIT Test is expiring soon, make sure you send your completed FIT Test (the FIT tube with your stool or poop sample in it) to the lab at least two weeks before the expiry date. If your FIT Test is expired, call LifeLabs at 1-833-676-1426.
  • The FIT Test 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 Test 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.
  • The stool collection paper is biodegradable and safe to use for septic systems.
  • To avoid having to do the test again, it is important to return your completed FIT Test as soon as possible. It is best to mail it or drop it off within two days of doing the FIT Test because it needs to arrive at LifeLabs for testing within 14 days of collecting your stool. 

What to expect during Breast Cancer Screening


On the day of your mammogram:

  • wear a two-piece outfit (like a top and pants) because you will be asked to take off your top
  • do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, body lotions or talcum powders because they can affect the accuracy of the mammogram
  • A medical radiation technologist (someone who is trained to take mammograms) will place your breast on the mammography machine.
  • A plastic plate will move down slowly to press the breast and hold it in place.
  • There will be some pressure for a few seconds on the breast, much like a tight blood pressure cuff. This pressure does not harm your breast tissue. The person taking the mammogram is trained to make sure the experience is as comfortable as possible and will be able to adjust the pressure if needed.
  • Mammograms are taken of each breast from 2 different angles.
  • The appointment usually takes about 15 minutes.
Three women hugging on couch

What to expect during Cervical Cancer Screening


  • Try to make the appointment for a day when you do not have your period.

  • Don’t have sex or use tampons, creams or medicines in your vagina for 48 hours before the test.

  • If the earlier points can’t be avoided, still go for your test.

  • A Pap test is done by a doctor, nurse practitioner or registered nurse (RN).
  • A Pap test only takes a few minutes. For a Pap test, the provider will open a patient’s vagina (genital opening) using a medical tool called a speculum to see their cervix. The provider will use a soft brush to take cells from the surface of the patient’s cervix so the lab can examine the cells under a microscope. Some people may find it uncomfortable or embarrassing but it is important that any cell changes are found and, if necessary, treated before they can cause cervical cancer.
  • The lab sends the test results to the provider who did the test.
  • The provider who did the test will then tell the patient the next steps for follow-up.

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