Fecal occult blood

Fecal occult blood (FOB) is blood present in the feces that is not visible to the naked eye. This condition can be a crucial indicator of internal gastrointestinal bleeding, which may not produce any visible symptoms. FOB testing is a non-invasive method used to detect hidden blood in the stool, which can be a sign of various medical conditions....

Fecal occult blood

Who would benefit from testing for FOB?

Testing for fecal occult blood is particularly beneficial for certain groups of people. These include individuals over 50 years of age, as they have a higher risk of colorectal cancer; those with a family history of colorectal cancer; and people experiencing symptoms suggestive of gastrointestinal disorders. Additionally, it is recommended for those with a history of polyps, inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis, and those with a personal history of bowel cancer.

What symptoms are associated with FOB?

While fecal occult blood itself does not cause symptoms, its presence can indicate underlying conditions that might. Symptoms that might be associated with conditions leading to FOB include abdominal pain or discomfort, a change in bowel habits (like persistent diarrhea or constipation), unexplained weight loss, or a feeling of incomplete bowel evacuation. However, many cases of FOB are asymptomatic, which is why screening is crucial.

What can be the cause of FOB?

The causes of fecal occult blood are varied. They can range from benign conditions such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures to more serious concerns like ulcers, inflammatory bowel diseases, polyps, or gastrointestinal cancers. Even certain medications, like aspirin or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can cause gastrointestinal bleeding leading to FOB.

When should you seek medical attention?

Medical attention should be sought if FOB is detected, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like abdominal pain, changes in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss. Even in the absence of symptoms, the detection of FOB warrants a medical evaluation to determine the underlying cause and initiate appropriate treatment if necessary. Early detection of conditions like colorectal cancer can significantly improve treatment outcomes.

Test(s) that measure/test for Fecal occult blood

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