Stool Test Options

Which stool test is right for you?

A stool test is used to detect the presence of blood or other gastrointestinal abnormalities, such as colon or gastric cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, hemorrhoids, anal fissures or infections.

Man looking at a medical chart and talking with his doctor
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There are two main types of stool tests to choose from. A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) detects the presence of blood in your feces. The second type, a stool DNA test, detects the presence of genetic material from polyps and cancerous tumors.

FOBT Stool Tests

FOBTs use a chemical reaction to check for the presence of blood in your stool. They may be performed in a healthcare provider's office or at home. Guaiac FOBTs (gFOBTs) are the oldest type of stool test; they're the least accurate and the cheapest to buy over-the-counter.

Immunochemical FOBTs (iFOBTs), also known as fecal immunochemical tests (FITs), are newer and more sensitive options for detecting blood in stool, but they can also be more expensive if the test isn't covered by insurance. For example, iFOBTs can cost about $20 to $50. The iFOBT stool test detects the presence of hemoglobin, a protein found in blood.

Stool DNA Tests

Rather than looking for hidden blood, sDNA tests, also known as FIT-DNA tests, look for traces of DNA (genetic material) shed by polyps and/or colorectal tumors. This is the most sensitive and expensive (about $500) stool test currently available.

It's important to note that stool testing is only an effective colon cancer screening option when used in combination with other methods. If your stool test comes back positive, the next step is to make an appointment with your healthcare provider, who will probably order a colonoscopy or similar test.

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2 Sources
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  1. American Cancer Society. Colorectal cancer screening tests.

  2. Naber SK, Knudsen AB, Zauber AG, et al. Cost-effectiveness of a multitarget stool DNA test for colorectal cancer screening of Medicare beneficiaries. Goel A, ed. PLoS ONE. 2019;14(9):e0220234. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0220234