What Is Fecal Occult Blood and Why It Is Important?

While it is frequently avoidable and treatable upon early identification, colorectal cancer stands as one of the most prevalent cancers and a significant contributor to cancer-related fatality across the globe. As considerable gaps can arise between the evolution of colorectal malignancies and the appearance of symptoms, routine screening becomes crucial for thwarting cancer progression and expediting timely intervention. With its diverse variations, fecal hidden blood testing (FHBT) ranks among the primary discovery techniques aiding in the assessment of colorectal growths, colorectal tumours, and other ailments that might result in gastrointestinal bleeding. Continue reading to acquire more knowledge about fecal Occult blood testing (FOBT) and the utilisation of the Fecal Hidden Blood Test Kit (FHBT).

What Is Fecal Occult Blood (FOB)?

Unlike other types of blood in feces, such as melena or hematochezia, fecal Occult blood (FOB) pertains to blood within stool that is not evidently observable. Thus, fecal Occult blood testing (FOBT) serves as a diagnostic approach designed to identify subtle blood loss at any juncture throughout the gastrointestinal tract. The outcomes of the test could provide insights into various kinds of upper or lower gastrointestinal bleeding and trigger further investigations into diverse conditions like peptic ulcers, growths, sickle cell anemia, or cancerous activity. While fecal Occult blood testing (FOBT) does not directly spot malignancy within the gastrointestinal tract, it remains a widespread and established technique employed for the clinical examination of colorectal cancers. Roughly 1-5% of the screened populations are estimated to yield a positive fecal hidden blood test. Overall, this proves to be a convenient and effective technique for early identification and routine assessment of both pre-cancerous progressions and cancerous activity.

How Is Fecal Hidden Blood (FHB) Detected?

Several testing alternatives exist to identify fecal Occult blood (FOB) within stool samples. The most fitting method for a specific scenario can be determined based on the condition, medical history, family background, potential genetic syndromes, patient preferences, and the availability of requisite resources for testing and follow-up. Guaiac-based fecal Occult blood test (gFOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and the FIT-DNA test presently serve as the key techniques for spotting fecal Occult blood (FOB) in fecal matter. Among these, guaiac-based fecal Occult blood tests (gFOBT) employ chemical guaiac to detect heme in stool specimens. Conversely, fecal immunochemical tests (FIT) identify heme through antibodies. Although both guaiac-based fecal Occult blood test (gFOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT) can be executed at home or other point-of-care settings using a basic stool sample acquired through a stick or brush, the gathered samples usually require dispatch to a laboratory for hidden blood detection. By merging fecal immunochemical test (FIT) with the identification of altered DNA, the FIT-DNA test mandates sending an entire bowel movement sample to a laboratory. Lastly, certain swift chromatographic immunoassays, like the FOB Rapid Test Kit, allow for the qualitative recognition of hidden blood in the stool within minutes. These assessments are suitable for point-of-care screening as they do not mandate the shipment of collected samples to a laboratory for processing or interpretation.

What Can a Positive Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) Indicate?

An affirmative outcome from a fecal Occult blood test (FOBT) could stem from various medical conditions presenting with upper gastrointestinal bleeding or lower gastrointestinal bleeding. Colorectal or gastric cancers have been ascertained as the root cause in approximately 2-10% of patients yielding a positive fecal Occult blood test (FOBT). Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer originating in the colon or rectum. Typically, it manifests as growths on the innermost lining of the colon or rectum extends outward across some or all layers of the wall, and evolves into diverse tissues such as blood or lymph vessels. The stage of colorectal cancer hinges on the extent of its penetration into the wall and the degree of its spread beyond the colon or rectum. Though adenomas or other types of growths constitute about 20-30% of patients returning a positive fecal Occult blood test (FOBT), not all colorectal growths signify a pre-cancerous state. Regular screening facilitates effective management of growths, and any malignancies can be promptly addressed upon identification. Alongside colorectal cancers and growths, other conceivable causes of a positive fecal Occult blood test (FOBT) encompass diverticular disease, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, and sickle cell anemia.

Based on GLOBOCAN 2020 statistics, colorectal cancer was approximated to account for roughly 10% of all novel cancer cases and 9.4% of all cancer-linked fatalities. While colorectal growths or cancer may not invariably induce symptoms, if you notice blood within or on the stool, alterations in bowel patterns, diarrhea, constipation, enduring abdominal discomfort or spasms, unexplained weight loss, slim ribbon-like stools, or the sensation of incomplete bowel evacuation, it is advisable to consult your medical practitioner and undergo testing. Moreover, if you are at an elevated risk of developing colorectal cancers due to age, personal history, or family background, regular screening is strongly recommended.

How to Employ the Fecal OccultBlood Test Kit (FOBT)?

The precise process for detecting fecal Occult blood (FOB) hinges on the selected testing method. Guaiac-based fecal Occult blood tests (gFOBTs) and fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) usually necessitate collecting a stool sample using a stick or brush. After collection, the sample is commonly smeared on one or multiple cards for dispatch to a laboratory. Conversely, the FIT-DNA test mandates submitting an entire bowel movement sample to a laboratory. Immunochromatographic assays, like the FOB Rapid Test Kit, entail collecting liquid or solid stool specimens in a clean, dry container. After collection, the sample is transferred to the enclosed tube containing the extraction buffer. Following the closure of the tube's cap, the sample is thoroughly mixed with the extraction buffer, and the tube is left undisturbed for a few minutes as per the provided instructions. Lastly, the test cassette is extracted from its packaging, and several drops of the processed sample are added to the sample well (S) on the test cassette. The results can be interpreted within the time frame specified in the instructions, which usually does not exceed 15 minutes.


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