Blood in Stool Test - Fecal Immunochemical Test - FIT

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.

The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and fecal occult blood test (FOBT) are two different tests to check for hidden or invisible blood in your stool. These tests may be done for colorectal cancer screening or to look for the cause of certain conditions, such as anemia. This care path is for the FIT, which is when separate stool samples are placed in a container and mailed to a lab. The samples are tested for blood using different chemical reactions.

  • The FIT is more specific than the FOBT. It is only positive when the source of the bleeding is in the bowels (lower digestive tract).
  • This test detects only human hemoglobin. Other sources of blood, such as from the diet, do not cause a positive result. Therefore, the FIT does not have the same dietary and medication restrictions as the FOBT.
  • The FIT is more accurate and has fewer false positives than FOBT. However, it will not detect polyps or cancer if there is no bleeding.

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 inexpensive and easy to do.
  • The FOBT is not very accurate. It will test positive if you eat red meat shortly before the sample is collected.
  • The FOBT will also not detect polyps or cancer if there is no bleeding.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 50 if you are at average risk for colorectal cancer. Here are some of the options:

  • Annual FOBT or FIT
  • Stool DNA test (The ACS recommends this test every three years, but the best interval for testing is still being evaluated. Some experts are not formally recommending stool DNA testing at this time.)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years
  • Double-contrast barium enema every five years

The recommendations for each test may be affected by your personal medical history, as well as that of your family.

For this screening test, you will receive a small kit for taking stool samples. The kit will also contain directions for obtaining the samples and mailing them to the lab.

  • Verify with your healthcare provider which test you are having (FIT or FOBT). This is important so you know if there are any dietary or medication restrictions you need to follow.
  • To complete the test, you need to get one to three stool samples from separate bowel movements. Each sample needs to be placed in the container provider and mailed to a 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:

Laboratory Work
Blood Occult
Occult Blood
Colorectal Cancer Screening
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