Stool Test (Fecal Occult Blood Test)

A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) checks for blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of colon cancer. At Group Health, we use the fecal immunochemical test (FIT).

For the FIT, there are no special instructions to prepare for the test.

Taking the Test

Your doctor or nurse will give you a testing kit to take home. Directions are included in the testing kit. You will be collecting a stool sample at home. It's very important that you follow the directions in the kit to get the most accurate results.

General instructions to follow with any home test include:

Once you have finished the test, mail the sample within 3 days of collection. Use the postage paid envelope included with your kit.

You will receive your test results by mail. If you have registered for Personal Online Services and get your care at a Group Health Medical Centers clinic, you also can see your results online as soon as they are available.

Understanding the Results

Normal (negative) results: Normal results show that blood wasn't found in your stool. However, to be a good screening tool, this test needs to be done either every year or every 3 years along with a flexible sigmoidoscopy test.

Abnormal (positive) results: Abnormal results show that blood was found in your stool. This doesn't mean you have cancer, but you will need further testing. Generally, we recommend a colonoscopy as the next step.

If you have questions about colon cancer screening tests or how to perform the stool test, contact your doctor's office.

Clinical review by Janet Chestnut, MD
Group Health
Reviewed 01/04/2012