A stool blood test is also called a fecal occult blood (FOB) test. Several different types of fecal occult blood tests check for hidden blood in your stool.

Hidden blood may be an indicator of colon cancer or polyps in the colon or rectum. Usually, the blood produced by these conditions is in amounts too small for the naked eye.

Stool tests use chemicals or antibodies to detect hidden blood. There are several variations of the test. Talk to a healthcare provider about which test is right for you.

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What is a stool blood test?

A stool blood test screens for colon cancer and polyps, which are small pre-cancerous growths inside the colon. It also evaluates causes for anemia, a condition in which the blood doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells.

The tests cannot identify certain kinds of cancer, such as those detected by a colonoscopy. If your cancer or polyps don’t cause bleeding, the test won’t be able to detect them.

What should you expect with a stool blood test?

Certain foods, dietary supplements and medications can affect the results of some stool blood tests. Talk to your healthcare provider beforehand for recommendations. Common things to avoid include:

  • Specific fruits and vegetables such as broccoli and turnips
  • Red meat
  • Horseradish
  • Vitamin C supplements
  • Pain relievers

Most tests require stool samples, though some require an entire bowel movement.

Who should get a stool blood test?

Anyone between the ages of 50 and 75 should get a stool blood test every year to screen for colon cancer.

However, this test is not a replacement for other screenings, such as colonoscopies. You may need a colonoscopy as a follow-up to the results of another screening.

Some colon or colorectal cancer symptoms include:

  • Changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation that lasts for several days
  • The feeling you need to have a bowel movement that doesn’t go away
  • Rectal bleeding or dark stools
  • Cramping or stomach pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • If you are experiencing any symptoms above, come to CareNow® for a screening. Call your local facility to ensure your clinic offer this screening before your visit.

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