As part of common medical diagnosis and treatment, stool testing is a very simple tool for identifying potentially serious health conditions. Stool testing can identify conditions such as polyps and fissures, colorectal cancer, or even adverse reactions to medications. It is suggested that stool testing be done as part of routine examination, especially for those over 50.
Why is Stool Testing done?
- Part of a routine physical examination
- To identify signs of colorectal cancer
- To isolate the cause of abdominal pain
- Check for the cause of anemia
Types of Stool Testing
FOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Testing)
FOBT's identify the presence of blood in the stool using samples typically taken over 2-3 days time. Be sure to follow all test instructions especially as they relate to food and medicine consumption to reduce the chance of skewing test results.
Performing a FOBT at home
- Take samples using an applicator during two periods of a bowel movement.
- Use the applicator to place a smear of each sample on the test card.
- Close the slide cover and label with name, date, time, etc.
- Apply the developer solution and read results.
- Send in test card to a laboratory for confirmation of results.
FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test)
FIT tests are performed much in the same way as fecal occult blood testing in that multiple samples are taken over a 2-3 day period. The differences between FOBT's and FIT tests are the collection method, and FIT tests do not require changes in diet prior to stool testing.
Performing a FIT at home
- After a bowel movement, put toilet paper in the waste bag not into the toilet.
- Brush the surface of the stool with one of the included brushes.
- Dab the end of the brush on the test card and close the flap, sealing it.
- Put the used brush into the waste bag.
- Mail collected samples to the laboratory.
DNA Stool Testing
A stool DNA test requires collection of a full stool sample. Supplies are typically provided by your physician along with detailed instructions.
- Use a specimen container to collect a complete stool sample.
- Place the sealed container and an ice pack in a shipping box.
- Send the specimen to the laboratory within 24 hours of collection.
Stool Testing Considerations
- Stool tests are typically very accurate, but confirmation of results is suggested.
- Results positive for blood do not necessarily indicate cancer is present.
- Negative results for blood do not necessarily indicate no issue.
- Menstruation, hemorrhoids, anal fissures, bloody gums or noses, can skew results.
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