Blood in Stool Test

This test checks to see if there is any hidden blood in the stool. It is one method of screening for colorectal cancer.

This test checks to see if there is any hidden blood in the stool. It is one method of screening for colorectal cancer.

There are different tests to check for hidden or invisible blood in your stool. The fecal occult blood test (FOBT) requires you to place three separate stool samples on a special card. The card is then mailed to a lab.

  • The FOBT is done as a routine screening for colorectal cancer. It is inexpensive and easy to do.
  • The FOBT is not very accurate, and will test positive if you eat red meat shortly before the sample is collected.
  • The FOBT will not detect polyps or cancer if there is no bleeding. In that case, another test is more accurate.

The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) is also a test where when a stool sample is placed on a card. However, blood is tested by a different chemical reaction. This test may be done for colorectal cancer screening or to evaluate certain medical conditions (i.e., anemia).

  • The FIT does not have the same dietary and medication restrictions as the FOBT test. Therefore, it is be more accurate and has fewer false positives than the FOBT.
  • The FIT will also not detect cancer if there is no bleeding.
  • Tests for hidden or invisible blood in the stool may also be done to look for the cause of certain conditions, such as anemia.

For this screening test, you will receive a small kit for taking stool samples and directions for mailing them to the lab that will be processing the samples.

  • Verify with your healthcare provider which test you are having and if there are any dietary or medication restrictions you need to follow beforehand.
  • To complete the test, you will smear a small sample of three separate bowel movements onto a card. When all three tests have been completed, mail the card to the lab as directed.

What should I ask my healthcare provider before having this test?

  • Is there any special preparation for the test? (If so, get clear instructions on what you need to do.)
  • Are there any medications or foods I should not take before the test?
  • What is the reason for the test? Will the test results change my treatment plan? If not, do I need the test?


Also known as:

Occult Blood
Laboratory Work
Colorectal Cancer Screening
Blood Occult
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