The Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide
Diagnostic Tests - Fecal Occult Blood Test
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What happens when the test is performed?

  • If one of the traditional tests is used, you collect three stool samples, ideally on three different days. Some kits include tissue paper that you can lay on the surface of the toilet bowl water to help keep the stool sample from sinking. As an alternative, you can pass your bowel movement into a disposable container. Once you've had a bowel movement, obtain a very small sample of the stool using the thin wooden sticks in your kit and smear it on a card from your kit. Then fold over the card to protect your sample.When you have all three samples, mail the cards to the clinic or lab in the plastic-lined envelope given to you.Make sure that your name is written on each card.

    In the lab, the cards are treated with a chemical that produces a blue color when blood is present in the sample. This test works fine no matter how long it took your samples to reach the lab.

    If you have the flush pad test, you drop the pad into the toilet bowl after you've had a bowel movement, for three consecutive days. The pads change color when blood is present in the toilet bowl. You can flush the toilet to dispose of the pads, but-if blood is detected-should contact your doctor.

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