Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

Toilet door

Toilet door
beginning of content

Stool tests

Stool tests are used to check for possible bowel cancer and to look for causes of gastrointestinal illness.

Types of stool tests

Stool specimens are tested in the laboratory in a variety of ways depending on their purpose. These tests are also sometimes called faecal tests.

Faecal occult blood test

Faecal occult blood tests, or FOBTs, are used to test healthy people for possible bowel cancer. The test looks for tiny amounts of blood in the faeces. Anyone who has blood in their faeces would then go to have more testing to see whether the cause is cancer or something else.

Some Australians aged over 50 are eligible for free FOBTs through the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program. If you’re not eligible, your doctor can suggest other options. For more information, call the Cancer Council Helpline on 13 11 20.

Stool culture

Stool culture helps identify bacteria and parasites that might cause problems like diarrhoea. A stool culture test can also detect the presence of Helicobacter pylori bacteria, which are associated with stomach ulcers and stomach cancer.

How do I collect samples?

Stool samples for FOBTs are easily collected in the privacy of your own home. Because you are sampling regular bowel movements, there are few potential complications.

But you need to be careful with stool samples for culturing. They need to be handled carefully to keep your hands clean and avoid passing on an infection. You also need to make sure you don’t contaminate the sample with urine or toilet paper.

Collect your samples in sterile vials, which your doctor will have given you. Store them in the fridge, well away from food, then take them to your doctor or to the pathology lab as soon as possible. If there’s going to be a delay, talk to your doctor about it.

What do my results mean?

Around 1 in every 13 people have positive FOBT results. A positive result does not necessarily mean you have bowel cancer. Other conditions like polyps, haemorrhoids or inflammation can give you positive results.

But if you do have a positive result, you should contact your doctor, who might recommend other tests like a colonoscopy.

If your FOBT is all clear, that’s good. But it doesn’t mean you’ll never develop bowel cancer. If you’re over 50, you should have regular screening every two years.

If you have a stool culture test and it is positive, see your doctor. You might need treatment.

Last reviewed: February 2016

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Found 6173 results

Stool Culture - Lab Tests Online AU

To determine whether you have an infection of your digestive tract due to the presence of disease-causing (pathogenic) bacteria

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Faecal occult blood test - myDr.com.au

Faecal occult blood test is a chemical test that can detect tiny traces of blood in the stool that may indicate the presence of disease.

Read more on myDr website

Follow a sample - Lab Tests Online AU

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Helicobacter pylori - Lab Tests Online AU

A breath test, tissue biopsyof the stomach lining via gastroscopy, stool sample, or blood sample from a vein

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Throat culture - Lab Tests Online AU

Unlike giving a blood sample, there is little preparation required for a throat culture. The nurse will ask the patient to open his or her mouth and then wipe the back of the throat with a cotton swab to obtain some cell samples.

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Blood cultures - Lab Tests Online AU

When you have signs or symptoms of a bacterial infection, such as fever, chillsand tiredness, which also may be accompanied by other illnesses, such asurinary tract infection (UTI), pneumonia, diarrhoea, delirium sepsis or skin infection

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Susceptibility testing - Lab Tests Online AU

Sensitivity testing; Antimicrobial susceptibility testing; AST; Drug resistance testing; Culture and sensitivity; C&S

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Rickettsial Diseases Testing - Lab Tests Online AU

Rickettsia Testing (name specific for each organism) - Antibodies, Nucleic Acid Amplification and Culture Tests

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Sweat test - Lab Tests Online AU

When a newborn or infant has symptoms that suggest CF, such as frequent respiratory infections and chronic cough, persistent diarrhoea, foul-smelling bulky greasy stools and malnutrition; and as a follow-up, confirmatory test to help diagnose CF

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Mycoplasma - Lab Tests Online AU

Mycoplasma pneumoniae IgG and IgM antibodies; Mycoplasma pneumoniae culture; Mycoplasma culture, genital source; Mycoplasma DNA testing

Read more on Lab Tests Online website

Check your symptoms Find a health service

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice and information you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo
Feedback