Fecal occult blood (FOB) refers to blood in the feces that is not visibly apparent (unlike other types of blood in stool such as melena or hematochezia). A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) checks for hidden (occult) blood in the stool (feces)

Fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), as its name implies, aims to detect subtle blood loss in the gastrointestinal tract, anywhere from the mouth to the colon. Positive tests ("positive stool") may result from either upper gastrointestinal bleeding or lower gastrointestinal bleeding and warrant further investigation for peptic ulcers or a malignancy (such as colorectal cancer or gastric cancer). The test does not directly detect colon cancer but is often used in clinical screening for that disease, but it can also be used to look for active occult blood loss in anemia or when there are gastrointestinal symptoms.

In the event of a positive fecal occult blood test, the next step in the workup is a form of visualization of the gastrointestinal tract by one of several means:

  1. Sigmoidoscopy, an examination of the rectum and lower colon with a lighted instrument to look for abnormalities, such as polyps.

  2. Colonoscopy, a more thorough examination of the rectum and entire colon.

  3. Virtual colonoscopy

  4. Upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. It is sometimes performed with chromoendoscopy, a method that assists the endoscopist by enhancing the visual difference between cancerous and normal tissue, either by marking the abnormally increased DNA content (toluidine blue) or failing to stain the tumor, possibly due to decreased surface glycogen on tumor cells(Lugol). Infrared fluorescent endoscopy[citation needed] and ultrasonic endoscopy[citation needed] can interrogate vascular abnormalities such as esophageal varices.

  5. Double contrast barium enema: a series of x-rays of the colon and rectum.

Screening methods for colon cancer depend on detecting either precancerous changes such as certain kinds of polyps or on finding early and thus more treatable cancer. The extent to which screening procedures reduce the incidence of gastrointestinal cancer or mortality depends on the rate of precancerous and cancerous disease in that population. gFOBT and flexible sigmoidoscopy screening have each shown benefit in randomized clinical trials. Evidence for other colon cancer screening tools such as iFOBT or colonoscopy is substantial and guidelines have been issued by several advisory groups but does not include randomized studies.

Source: Wikipedia