For patients who are not comfortable with colonoscopy, the doctor might recommend a fecal occult blood test. A fecal occult blood test is a diagnostic tool used to detect the presence of hidden blood in the stool. This type of testing is used to screen for colorectal cancer or other gastrointestinal disorders, and is generally non-invasive and easy to perform, making it a popular choice among patients.
If you are considering a fecal occult blood test, continue reading. In this blog, we will discuss how this test is done and its benefits.
How is a Fecal Occult Blood Test Performed?
There are two types of FOBTs: guaiac-based and immunochemical. Guaiac-based FOBTs (g-FOBT) detect the presence of hemoglobin in the stool, which can be an indication of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract. Immunochemical FOBTs (i-FOBT) specifically look for human blood in the stool, which is more accurate than guaiac-based testing. The sensitivity for detecting cancer is 82% for i-FOBT and 64.3% for g-FOBT.
The test is performed by placing a stool sample on a card that contains chemicals that change color when they come into contact with blood. You can perform a fecal occult blood test at home, and it typically requires three different stool samples for greater accuracy. The card is then sent to a laboratory for analysis.
If the results of the fecal occult blood test are positive, it does not necessarily mean that you have colorectal cancer. Other serious conditions can also cause positive FOBT results. If you have a positive result, your doctor will likely order additional tests to confirm the diagnosis.
What Are the Benefits of a Fecal Occult Blood Test?
There are several advantages of using this type of test over other methods, such as colonoscopy. First, the test is less likely to cause discomfort or embarrassment, which are factors that can make patients avoid colonoscopy, as the test allows you to be discreet. Second, preparing for a fecal occult blood test does not involve the intake of bowel prep and a liquid diet. Doctors do recommend not consuming red meat or red or purple vegetables, such as beetroot, and not taking vitamin C and certain medications before performing the test. After the test, you should be able to consume the foods and medications that you normally do.
An FOBT does have its limitations, and a colonoscopy is still considered the gold standard for detecting colon cancer. Talk to your GI specialist to help you make the right decision for your care.
Fecal Occult Blood Tests in California
At insite Digestive Care, we offer different tests that help with diagnosing colorectal cancer. Deciding which test is right for you can be difficult, as each test has its strengths and weaknesses. Our GI specialists are committed to your GI health and will help you make an informed decision. We are a large GI practice, with many locations across California. To schedule an appointment with one of our GI doctors, call our GI clinic nearest you or use our convenient online request form.