What is the faecal immunochemical test?
The Faecal immunochemical test detects tiny amounts of blood in your faeces (poo / stool), which you would not normally see or be aware of. You should complete the test as soon as possible.
What is the purpose of the test?
The test helps to diagnose bleeding disorders of the gut (intestine). There are several causes for bleeding from the gut including; polyps (small non-cancerous growths in the bowel), ulcers, conditions causing bowel inflammation and rarely, bowel (or colorectal) cancer.
Please note: the test can only say that you are bleeding from somewhere in the gut. It cannot tell from which part or the cause of the bleeding. If the test is positive, your doctor will have a discussion with you about the option of referring you for further tests, to find the source of the bleeding.
How do I complete the test?
- Your doctor has provided you with a testing kit, including a brown-topped specimen bottle and a clear specimen bag containing the request form (which is for laboratory use only).
- There are many ways to collect your stool (poo) sample. For example, you could pass your stool into a clean and dry container which is covered with toilet tissue.
- After this, use the small scraper in the brown-topped specimen bottle to scrape up as much of the stool (poo) as possible from the toilet tissue lining the container. When the bottle is almost full screw the brown-topped scraper back on (as tightly as possible to prevent leakages in transit).
- Please write the date and time that the sample was collected on the bottle label, (which may already be partially completed by your doctor).
- Return the bottle inside its specimen bag to reception at Cuckfield or the Vale surgery before 2.30pm, Monday to Friday.
- It is essential that the sample is fresh (i.e. collected on the same day it is returned to the surgery), to avoid the specimen being rejected by the hospital laboratory.
When can I find out the results?
- These are usually available after 2 weeks. You can obtain results by phoning the surgery but it is important to make a follow-up appointment with your doctor, especially if you were advised to do so or your symptoms have persisted or changed.
Should I still attend for bowel cancer screening?
Yes, absolutely – the bowel cancer screening programme saves thousands of lives each year. It is important to do the faecal immunochemical test, as advised by your GP, regardless of whether you have just participated in bowel cancer screening or are due to take part in it imminently.