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  6. Immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT or FIT)

Immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT or FIT)


Cancer in the large intestine (colon or rectum) often leaves traces of blood in stool that can’t be seen with the naked eye (occult blood). In order to verify whether you have blood in your stool or not, you were advised to have an immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT). The results of this test will not confirm whether you have cancer or not but will tell you if you should have a colonoscopy for verification.

The iFOBT test involves taking a sample of your stool yourself at home. The sample is then analysed in the laboratory.

Who is eligible for screening

Screening is mainly aimed at people at average risk. Indeed, it is recommended that people who are 50 to 74 years old and at average risk (no symptoms or other risk factors) get screened for colorectal cancer every 2 years.

The iFOBT is the recommended screening method for most of these people. Check with a health care professional to find out if you are eligible for the test.


Get a prescription from your doctor

If you are between 50 and 74 years old, ask your doctor if you should have an iFOBT. If so, your doctor will give you a prescription to get a sample collection kit.

Get a sample collection kit

If you have a family doctor, you can get a prescription and your health care professional will tell you where to get a test kit.

If you do not have a family doctor, you can make an appointment at a local Service Point by visiting the Clic Santé website or by calling 1 877-644-4545.

Book an appointment

During your appointment, a health care professional will do a brief assessment to check if you are eligible for a screening test and will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of participating or not participating in screening with you.

If you are eligible for an iFOBT and, following an informed decision-making process, you want to do the test, a test kit and instruction sheet will be given to you so that you can collect the sample at home. Your participation in screening is voluntary. Screening is an option, never an obligation.

Take a sample of your stool

To obtain a sample of your stool, you need the sample collection kit and the instruction sheet provided to you at the specimen collection centre. Be sure to follow each of the steps indicated on the sheet.

The information on the sheet is also available on the Instructions for immunochemical fecal occult blood test (iFOBT) page.

Bring the sample to the designated location

Bring your stool sample to the location indicated to you by the health care professional no later than 48 hours after collection.

If you have your prescription, put it in the bag with your sample.

After your sample has been analyzed, the appropriate follow-up of the result will be done by a health care professional.

Possible test results

There are 3 possible results:

  • Negative
  • Positive
  • Inconclusive

Negative test result

Your test is negative if no trace of blood is detected in your stool. In this case, your doctor may prescribe you another iFOBT in 2 years.

A negative result does not guarantee:

  • That you don’t have a cancer
  • That you will not develop colorectal cancer in the future

Hence, you should do the test every 2 years and talk to your doctor if you notice the apparition of 1 or more symptoms associated with colorectal cancer.

Positive test result

If there is blood in your stool, your test is positive. In this case, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy.

The presence of blood in the stool is not necessarily an indication of cancer. Other health problems can also be the cause, including hemorrhoids and anal fissures.

Positive test results are uncommon. Of 1,000 people screened, only 36 will have a positive result and must then do a colonoscopy. Of these 36 people:

  • 4 will have colorectal cancer
  • 17 will have one or more polyps removed (small masses of flesh that look like warts; they grow on the inner lining of the large intestine)
  • 15 will have neither polyps nor cancer

Inconclusive test

A test is inconclusive when it has been administered incorrectly, or when too much time has elapsed between the test and the analysis. If your test is inconclusive, you must take it again. It is therefore essential to follow instructions received with your sample collection kit. These instructions are also available on the Instructions for Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood Test (iFOBT) page.

Last update: February 5, 2024


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