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Occult blood, faeces

The existence in the faeces of blood that is unable to be seen by the naked eye, but can be shown by chemical tests.

Faecal occult blood tests are frequently used in the screening of cancer of the colon. Finding faecal occult blood can also be a sign of various gastrointestinal disorders including gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining); esophagitis (inflammation of the gullet); stomach cancer; cancer of the intestine; rectal cancer; diverticular disease (in which pouches form in the intestinal walls); polyps in the colon; ulcerative colitis (inflammation and ulceration of the lining of the rectum and colon); or irritation by the intestine or stomach by drugs such as aspirin.

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