A positive hemoccult test means that abnormal bleeding is occurring in the digestive tract, explains Lab Tests Online. The test is used as a screening method for colon cancer and to help diagnose anemia. People should have a hemoccult test yearly beginning at age 50 to screen for colon cancer.
Blood can appear in the stool for a number of reasons, notes WebMD. Inflammatory bowel diseases, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, ulcers, hemorrhoids, diverticulitis and polyps are some of the conditions that can cause bleeding. Gastrointestinal bleeding can either be easily seen or completely invisible.
Certain foods and medications can interfere with this test, according to MedlinePlus. Red meat, cantaloupe, raw broccoli, turnip, radish and horseradish should be avoided prior to and during the testing period. Vitamin C, aspirin and other anti-inflammatory medications should be avoided as well.
Abnormal tests require a follow-up colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, states WebMD. These tests visually inspect the colon for polyps, small finger-like growths that grow into the colon. Polyps can bleed easily and change in appearance over time. They are usually removed during a colonoscopy.
To take a hemoccult test, take three small stool samples one day apart from one another over the course of three days, explains WebMD. Use the test applicator to place the samples in the cards, and then mail to the processing laboratory or take them to the doctor for review.