How Getting Colon Cancer at 21 Changes Everything
How Colon Cancer Is Diagnosed
Screening tests help your doctor find polyps or cancer before you have symptoms. Finding and removing polyps may prevent colorectal cancer. Also, treatment for colorectal cancer is more likely to be effective when the disease is found early.
To find polyps or early colorectal cancer:
- People in their 50s and older should be screened.
- People who are at higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests before age 50, what tests to have, the benefits and risks of each test, and how often to schedule appointments.
The following screening tests can be used to detect polyps, cancer, or other abnormal areas.
Your doctor can explain more about each test:
- (FOBT): Sometimes cancers or polyps bleed, and the FOBT can detect tiny amounts of blood in the stool. If this test detects blood, other tests are needed to find the source of the blood. Benign conditions (such as ) also can cause blood in the stool.
- : Your doctor checks inside your rectum and the lower part of the colon with a lighted tube called a . If polyps are found, the doctor removes them. The procedure to remove polyps is called a .
- : Your doctor examines inside the rectum and entire colon using a long, lighted tube called a . Your doctor removes polyps that may be found.
- Double-contrast barium enema: You are given an enema with a barium solution, and air is pumped into your rectum. Several pictures are taken of your colon and rectum. The barium and air help your colon and rectum show up on the pictures. Polyps or tumors may show up.
- : A rectal exam is often part of a routine physical examination. Your doctor inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into your rectum to feel for abnormal areas.
- : This method is under study. See "The Promise of Cancer Research."
You may find it helpful to read the NCI fact sheetTests to Detect Colorectal Cancer and Polyps.
Video: What is Colorectal Cancer?
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