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More Info: FOBT

Important Facts About This Test

  • FOBT has a medium to high level of accuracy for finding cancers, but a low level of accuracy for finding polyps. Some patients' tests may be false positive, leading to unnecessary colonoscopies.
  • If the results of this test are abnormal, you would need to have a colonoscopy.
  • There is no risk.
  • An FOBT needs to be done once every year.
  • It is the least costly screening test. It is covered by Medicare and most insurers.

Getting Ready

  • The test may involve avoiding red meat and some fruits and vegetables before and during the collection period.
  • You may be asked to stop taking aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications during this period.

During the Test

  • The test is done at home, using a kit.
  • For guaiac-based tests, you use wooden sticks to collect two small stool samples, which you then place onto a special card.
  • For fecal immunochemical tests, you use a brush or specialized device to collect a small stool sample, which you then place on a card or into a special container.
  • The time it takes depends on the type of kit and how long it takes you to collect stool from one to three consecutive bowel movements.

After the Test 

  • When you finish the test, you mail the completed cards or container to your doctor in the special envelope that comes with the kit.

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