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What Is It?

A fecal occult blood test checks stool samples for traces of blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye. This test is also called a stool guaiac or Hemoccult test. It is a simple chemical test of a stool sample that involves about five minutes of preparation time.

Because the fecal occult blood test can detect bleeding from almost anywhere along the length of the digestive tract, several conditions can cause the result to be positive. They include esophagitis, gastritis, peptic ulcer disease, stomach cancer, ulcerative colitis, colorectal cancer or polyps, and hemorrhoids. The result also can be positive when someone has been taking aspirin or other medications that irritate the digestive tract.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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