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Hemoccult Test

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Feb 6, 2023.

What do I need to know about a Hemoccult test?

A Hemoccult test is used to check for blood in your bowel movement. It is also called a fecal blood test or occult blood test. Testing for blood in your bowel movement may be part of your yearly physical exam. An abnormal Hemoccult result may mean you need more tests to check for the following:

  • Abnormal growths (polyps) or lesions in the intestine
  • Bleeding in your intestines
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Hemorrhoids or a fissure (tear in the tissue)
  • Inflammatory bowel disease or peptic ulcer disease

How do I prepare for the test?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about what to eat and what to avoid before your test. Some foods and medicines can make the results less accurate. The following can help keep your test results accurate:

  • Eat high-fiber foods, such as cereals or breads with bran, for 2 to 3 days before the test. High-fiber foods will make it easier for you to have a bowel movement.
  • Do not eat foods that will make it look like you have blood in your bowel movement. Do not eat red meat, raw broccoli, cauliflower, or turnips.
  • Do not take vitamin C supplements for 7 days before the test. Vitamin C can prevent the test from showing blood in your bowel movement.
  • Do not take NSAIDs, such as aspirin or ibuprofen, for 7 days before the test. The medicines can make it look like you have blood in your bowel movement when you do not.

How is the Hemoccult test done?

  • If you are a woman, wait 3 days after your monthly period has stopped before you get a bowel movement sample. You may need up to 3 separate bowel movement samples for the test.
  • Use a plastic container, bag, or bedpan to collect a sample of your bowel movement. Keep your bowel movement separate from your urine. Do not put toilet paper in with the bowel movement. Use the wooden stick to apply 1 or more small smears of bowel movement on the card. Use a sample from a different part of the bowel movement for each smear. Return the card to your healthcare provider or a lab as directed.

What do I need to know about my test results?

Your healthcare provider will discuss your test results with you.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. To help with this plan, you must learn about your lab tests. You can then discuss the results with your healthcare providers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat you. You always have the right to refuse treatment.The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.