What Cancers Can a Stool Test Detect?
If you experience any digestive abnormalities (such as blood in the stool, bloating, or excessive gas), then your doctor may order a stool test. Digestive diseases occur in the digestive tract, affecting the stomach, bowel, liver and pancreas.
Collectively, digestive diseases are a factor in 1 in 8 deaths in the UK, showing how important it is to look after your digestive health.
One way to keep an eye on digestive health is to take a stool test.
In this article, we will define what a stool test is, and answer the question, ‘what cancers can a stool test detect?’
What is a stool test?
A stool test is a type of medical test that doctors can order if a patient is experiencing uncomfortable digestion-related symptoms.
The patient has to collect their stool sample in a completely clean container, provided by the doctor or nurse. Then, the stool sample is given to the doctor and subsequently analysed by scientists at a lab.
Any abnormalities will be noticed by the lab scientists, such as:
Once the doctor receives a copy of the lab results, then this can help them accurately diagnose what is causing the patient to have uncomfortable symptoms.
A stool test can also help doctors diagnose cancer, which we will discuss in the following sections.
What does blood in the stool mean?
If you spot blood in your stool, this does not mean you definitely have cancer.
Blood can appear in the stool due to:
- piles (haemorrhoids).
- anal fissure (small tear in the skin of the anus).
- inflammation of the bowel or rectum.
- abnormal blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract.
- rectal ulcers.
What cancers can a stool test detect?
So, what cancers can a stool test detect?
There are a couple of cancers which can be detected, after a patient takes a stool test. These include:
- Bowel Cancer
Bowel Cancer is sometimes known as Colon Cancer, Rectal Cancer, or Colorectal Cancer.
This is cancer that begins in the large bowel.
What happens is that a clump of cells called polyps develops in the inner lining of the colon (large bowel). If you have polyps growing inside you, this does not mean you will develop cancer. Polyps can be non-cancerous and they can go away on their own.
A few polyps may continue to grow, which eventually develop into bowel cancer, over a period of several years.
If bowel cancer is detected early, then the right treatment can cure bowel cancer and stop it from coming back.
- Stomach Cancer
Sometimes, stomach cancer can cause small amounts of bleeding, which will be hard to see in your stool. So, a stool test can detect the presence of blood in the stool.
If blood is detected in the stool, then the patient will be sent for further testing, such as an upper endoscopy or endoscopic stomach biopsy- which will help test for stomach cancer.
- Pancreatic Cancer
Recent research has revealed that Pancreatic Cancer can be diagnosed early, if the patient’s stool sample is analysed for microorganisms such as bacteria.
This is a new breakthrough in medicine which will make a major difference because early detection and diagnosis can help save lives. In the UK, there are around 9,600 pancreatic cancer deaths every year, making the disease the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths.
What are the signs that I am having bowel problems?
There are many tell-tale signs which indicate that there may be something wrong with your bowel.
So, what are the signs of bowel problems? Here are some symptoms to look out for:
- Blood in your stool or on toilet tissue
- Severe pain or discomfort after eating
- Severe stomach/abdominal pain or cramping, which does not go away
- Unexplained changes in bowel movements or urine
- Painful bowel movements
- Urgent need to have a bowel movement
- Diarrhoea or constipation, or both
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vomiting blood
- Excessive wind
- Bloating, or discomfort and pain when swallowing
- Intolerance to certain foods
- Reduced appetite
- Swollen abdomen, or pain/tenderness when you touch your abdomen
- Severe heartburn
- Abnormal skin tags on the buttocks
- Burning or itching of the anus
- Mouth sores
- High temperature
- Fever or chills
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Swollen or painful joints
- Difficulty sleeping
- Unintentional weight loss
- Anxiety and depression
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as quickly as possible. The sooner you visit a doctor, the quicker you can get an accurate diagnosis and receive the help, care, support and treatment you need.
If you suspect your bowel is obstructed (blocked), this is a medical emergency, so you should go to your local Accident & Emergency (A&E) department straight away.
Can I test myself for bowel cancer?
Yes, you can take an at-home bowel cancer test, which detects whether there is blood in your stool. This aids in the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Remember, the earlier you act if you experience any unusual symptoms, the better it will be for your health.
Here at Official Rapid Tests, we offer an Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test.
This self-test is a rapid lateral flow test for the detection of human occult blood in faeces.
You can take the test in minutes, and then send it to our accredited lab for analysing, using the instructions provided.
You will receive your test results and any recommendations very quickly, within just a few days, via email.
Please note: If your results are outside the normal range and are of concern, it is a priority that you contact your local GP or emergency service by calling 111 or 999.
If you feel unwell or are concerned about your health, it is your responsibility to get in touch with the emergency services as soon as possible, do not wait for results to be issued.
Click here to shop our Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test.
Read more articles like this
To learn more about bowel health, health tests, Covid testing and travel testing, click here to read our blog articles on:
- What Age Does Bowel Cancer Start?
- What Are the Signs of Bowel Problems?
- How Do You Check Your Bowel Health?
- How Do You Know if You Have Damaged Your Bowels?
- How Does Strep A Get in Your Blood?
- Can I Enter the UK with an Antigen Test?
- What Is an In-Clinic Antigen Test?
- Do I Need an Antigen Test to Travel
ABOUT OFFICIAL RAPID TESTS
At Official Rapid Tests, we are a UK Government listed testing provider. We are a team of medical industry experts, with a combined experience of 40 years in the testing, diagnostic and medical services sector.
Click here to purchase our Instant Bowel Cancer Home Test, which aids in the diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Are you looking to test yourself for Covid-19?
Book a Covid test at one of our test centres, as we have over 120 clinics all over the UK. To book a Covid Test with us at your nearest test centre, click here.
Alternatively, buy a Rapid Antigen Test, Video Supervised Lateral Flow Test or a Covid Recovery Certificate, which you can use as proof that you are fit to travel abroad.
If you are not sure what kind of Covid Test you need, then click here to take our quiz. This will tell you which type of Covid test is suitable based on your travel requirements.
Our Covid tests are perfect for use as proof that you have negative Covid status if you are travelling. With every negative result, you will receive a signed note from one of our doctors, declaring that you are Covid-free and fit to travel internationally.
We hope we have answered the question, ‘what cancers can a stool test detect?’
Read more articles on travelling, Covid tests and health tests on our blog here.