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A stool test examines the stool (feces). Stool tests are useful for investigating problems in the stomach, intestine or other parts of the digestive system.
A stool test may be done to check for:
Screening for colorectal cancer uses stool tests to check for bleeding inside the GI tract. Find out more about screening for colorectal cancer.
There are several different types of stool tests. The type of stool test used depends on why the test is being done and what the doctor is looking for. Some types of stool tests are:
Unlike most other lab tests, stool is usually collected at home. Some tips for collecting a stool specimen include:
At the laboratory, the stool sample is analyzed and examined under a microscope.
In general, normal stool appears brown, soft and well-formed in consistency. It does not contain blood, mucus, pus, harmful bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites.
Abnormal results may be due to:
The doctor will decide if more tests, procedures, follow-up care or additional treatment are needed.
A clinical trial led by the Society’s NCIC Clinical Trials group found that men with prostate cancer who are treated with intermittent courses of hormone therapy live as long as those receiving continuous therapy.