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​What is a Faecal Occult Blood (FIT) Test?

It is a test that:

  • Detects the presence of small amounts of blood (which can't be seen with the naked eye) i​n the stools.
  • Is safe, quick and easy to do, and can be done at home, without the need to change your diet before the test.

You will need to collect two stool samples over two days for a more accurate result.

People who are aged 50 years and above, without any symptoms of colorectal cancer, are encouraged to go for FIT once a year.

Why is the test necessary?

Stools may look normal even if they contain small amounts of blood. The test is necessary to detect these small amounts of blood which are usually invisible to the "naked" eye.

Why would there be blood in the stools?

Blood in stools may be due to bleeding in the inner lining of the large intestine. There are many causes of bleeding, for example, polyps, an infection and cancer. To find out more, please speak to your family doctor.

How is the FIT carried out?

Steps 1 to 5 show you how the test should be done.


Do:

  • Collect two separate stool samples, each from a fresh bowel movement
  • Use a new FIT kit to collect the second stool sample on a different day
  • Mail the completed FIT kits within 24 hours from the day of each stool colle​ction
  • Store it in a cool and dry place if you are unable to mail the completed FIT kit within the day of the test

Don't:

  • Add water to the FIT kit
  • Pour out the water from the FIT kit
  • Let water or urine come into contact with the stool sample
  • Collect a stool sample if you have diarrhoea or any bleeding conditions such as haemorrhoids (piles) or are menstruating

What happens if the test is positive?

If the test shows a positive result (abnormal), it means that the amount of blood present in your stool is higher than normal. However, it does not mean that you have cancer. Further testing is necessary. Your doctor will advise you on w​hat further tests you may need, such as a colonoscopy.

What is colonoscopy?

Colonoscopy is a procedure that uses a flexible tube (colonoscope) to look at the inner lining of the large intestine (colon and rectum). It takes about 20-30 minutes and has to be done by a doctor trained in doing colonsocopies, in a hospital setting.

Is colonoscopy safe?

It is generally a safe procedure. However, complications can sometimes occur. These include:

  • Dizziness, headache, nausea or vomiting
  • Reaction to sedatives or anaesthetic
  • Bleeding where polyps have been removed
  • Very rarely (in less than 1 in 1000 cases), perforation (hole in the colon wall)

What should I do before colonoscopy?

The colon needs to be cleared of waste materials so that it can be seen clearly. This is known as bowel preparation and is done the day before the colonoscopy. Bowel preparation involves eating a light diet, stopping certain medication, fasting and taking a special solution to pass out all stools before the colonoscopy. The specialist at the hospital will give you more detailed advice.

What happens during colonoscopy?

A flexible tube (the colonoscope) will be inserted slowly through the anus and guided gently into the colon. Some discomfort may be felt during the process.

What is sedation and will I be sedated during colonoscopy?

Sedation helps you to relax and is commonly given just before colonoscopy. The procedure may be done with or without sedation. Please discuss this with the specialist at the hospital.

What happens after colonoscopy?

After the procedure, you will be taken to a recovery room to rest. When you wake up, you may feel a little bloated. It is best to have a family member or friend to accompany you home to rest, especially if you have had sedation as it is unsafe to drive or travel alone.

For more information, call the Healthline at 1800 223 1313 to speak to a Nurse Advisor.