Bowel cancer, also known as colon cancer, is a very common form of cancer. It is important to detect bowel cancer early, to save a lot of pain later. An early detection increases the probability of a successful treatment. In fact, for patients who get bowel cancer treated as soon as possible, the survival rate is higher than 90 percent.
Almost 95 percent of bowel cancers develop from a benign tumor called polyps, which grows within the colon. Usually, bowel cancer doesn’t cause any pain, and often stays undetected for several years till it becomes malignant. A simple blood test can detect bowel cancer at an early stage.
What are the Symptoms of Bowel Cancer?
Bower cancer has three main symptoms:
- Blood in the stools
- Changes in the bowel habit such as frequent and looser stools.
- Abdominal pain.
These symptoms are very common and do not necessarily mean that you have bowel cancer. Blood in the stools is caused usually by piles (or hemorrhoid) and changes in bowel habit or abdominal pain can be caused because of food poisoning or unhealthy eating habits.
In the United Kingdom, over 7 million people suffer from blood in the stools each year, and more suffer from changes in the bowel movement or abdominal aches – so, clearly, these symptoms are far too common to specifically indicate bowel cancer.
Also, these symptoms are commonly seen in people over the age of 60. Bowel cancer is also seen mostly in older people over the age of 60, so these symptoms become important if they persist as one gets older. The symptoms of bowel cancer are very subtle, and it is possible that you may not feel really unwell because of them.
The following symptom combinations may indicate bowel cancer:
# Forceful changes in bowel habits which cause people to go to the toilet more often, pass looser stools, with blood appearing on the stools.
# Forceful changes in bowel habits, with abdominal pain, but without blood in the stools.
# Blood in the stools, but no other symptoms usually associated with piles or haemorrhoids such as pain, discomfort, soreness, itching and so on.
# Abdominal pain, bloating, discomfort and so on, leading to a reduction in food intake and noticeable weight loss.
The FOB Test for Bowel Cancer
The Faecal Occult Blood Test (or FOB Test) helps to detect bowel cancer early. This test should be performed by anyone over the age of 40, and even better if one gets this test done earlier than that, especially if there is a history of bowel cancer in the family.
The FOB test detects the smallest instance of blood in the stool which may not be visible to the naked eye. If blood is detected in the stool while doing this test, it is important to consult a doctor immediately, who will find out the reasons for the same.
The FOB test does not require you to restrict your eating habits while taking it and can be done any time of the day. The results of the FOB test take minutes to be made available, and are easy enough to get in a hospital. There is no need to send the samples to a laboratory.
What Happens in the FOB test?
In the FOB test, a small sample of the stool is taken with an applicator and put into a tube that is pre-filled with a developer solution. Then, a mixture is made, out of which a drop is placed on a test strip for the purpose of evaluation.
Is the FOB test reliable?
The FOB test is certainly reliable and detects only human blood. This means it is unaffected by the diet taken before the test.
Yes, unlike most home test kits, our fecal occult blood test is designed to specifically detect only human blood – which means it is unaffected by diet.
What can you learn from the FOB test?
If the FOB test turns out to be positive, this tells you that there is blood in your stool. So, you will have to visit a doctor at the earliest. Your doctor will conduct further, more extensive tests and investigate if you have bowel or colon cancer.