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This article was published on October 9, 2013, and was last updated on May 1st, 2019 in Hemorrhoid Banding.
Fecal occult blood is the blood in your stool that you can’t see. While you might notice blood in the toilet after a bowel movement or on the tissue after wiping, sometimes the blood you can’t see actually reveals more than the blood you can.
Invisible blood in the stool is the result of gastrointestinal bleeding. While fecal occult blood can be a sign of colon cancer, it can also point to easily treatable conditions like an infection, diverticulitis, or hemorrhoids. If you ever notice blood in your feces, it’s important to get a full diagnosis from a physician. The cause of the blood might be a serious problem or something more minor, like hemorrhoids.
Of course, there’s always the possibility that fecal occult blood is the sign of a polyp or cancer in the colon or rectum. However, fecal occult blood may not be accompanied by any other problem that you can see or feel, making detection of symptoms difficult. And although frequent diarrhea, gas or pain in the abdomen, and fatigue could be symptoms of colon cancer, they could simply be the results of a poor diet! This is why doctors use fecal occult blood tests to rule out, diagnose, and get to the root of the problem. Fecal occult blood tests are highly recommended for people over 50 because it is the best way to detect cancer in its earliest stages. Even if you have no other symptoms, a fecal occult blood test will detect microscopic blood – allowing your doctor to analyze and diagnose properly. And since it’s the best way to detect colon cancer early on, most physicians recommend the test be performed at least once a year for those over 50.