The fecal occult blood test helps find out blood traces present in the feces or stool. It may indicate a defect within the gastrointestinal tract, such as a cyst or a tumor at the site of the colon or the rectum. In normal circumstances, small amounts of blood can appear in the stool. For this reason, occult blood tests are designed to detect more significant amounts. Positive fecal occult blood test reports confirm the presence of blood in the feces. After positive FOBT test reports are obtained, the physician must examine the source of bleeding. The actual cause of bleeding is determined either by doing a colonoscopy or by examining the stomach and the small intestine. However, first, it determines where the bleeding is coming from. When a stool sample is negative, it indicates that no blood was detected during the testing period. The FOBT should be conducted following a few essential instructions by the user. It is often recommended to follow a special diet for 48-72 hours before the test to avoid adverse changes in test results. In the FOBT process, restricting the consumption of raw fruits, vegetables, beef, eggs, and pork is recommended. In addition, during the 72 hours before the test, take less than 250 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C-enriched foods and drinks.
A fecal occult blood test is a quick, safe, and minimally invasive diagnostic test. The FOBT can be conducted at one’s house and requires a whole testing kit that provides guidelines about the test procedure. There are two major types of fecal occult blood tests available, they are as follows:
Guaiac smear test (gFOBT): The test card is coated with a plant-based substance called guaiac, and a stool sample is placed on it. The feces sample is smeared on one side of a guaiac test slide, and a drop of staining reagent is added on the other side of the slide. It screens patients. A wooden applicator is used to remove the stool from the toilet bowl. A small amount is smeared on two windows of the card, and the card is closed. If blood is detected in the stool, then the card will change color. There are some guaiac-based FOBTs that use flushable pads rather than a card. These are available at most drugstores without a prescription. The user can immediately view results.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): The test procedure utilizes a unique protein termed an “antibody”. The unique protein attaches to hemoglobin that transports oxygen in red blood cells. Feces samples are stored in sterilized containers and tested by a medical professional. There are some advantages to the immunochemical test over the guaiac test. However, either test can check the presence of occult blood in the feces.
Guaiac smear test (gFOBT): For a guaiac-based FOBT, three stool samples are required. The specimens must be preserved in a sterilized container. Thus, the sample is not contaminated with urine or toilet water. The test package comes with an applicator. The applicator stick is designed to mount a specimen of feces on the given card or slide. The cards should be enclosed in a sealed envelope and mailed back to the health care provider or laboratory. Flushable wipes used for the guaiac FOBT.
After a bowel movement, flush the supplied wipe into the toilet. The wipes change color in the presence of blood in the feces. Keep a record of 3 bowel movements and contact the healthcare provider with the results.
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): The FIT will require collecting two to three stool samples. Use the stool sampler included in the kit. A stool sample can be taken from the toilet. The sample should be applied to the given container or card. The samples should be packaged as instructed and sent to the laboratory.
Occult blood in the feces may occur for a variety of reasons, and few are listed here. Tumor-related diseases include carcinomas and lymphomas. Examples of inflammation include Crohn’s disease, colitis, gastrointestinal problems, and peptic ulcer disease. Some bacterial infections can also lead to bleeding, such as enteric Escherichia coli, tuberculosis, Campylobacter, and Neisseria.
During testing, if the blood in the feces is detected, then naked eyes cannot see that. The concentration of hemoglobin per gram of feces is typically smaller than 50mg. Normal adults show a low level of hemoglobin, an increase in its level is linked with a broad range of benign and malignant gastrointestinal diseases, and primarily colonic neoplasms. Therefore, patients are usually screened for these lesions using these tests. FOBT is primarily used in the early screening of colorectal cancer. Colon cancer is among the common leading cancers in people worldwide. Therefore, its early detection is essential.
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