Diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer
- Sigmoidoscopy —A sigmoidoscope is a thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera attached. It is inserted into the rectum to view the inside of the lower colon and rectum. The doctor will use it to search for polyps, tumors, or abnormal growths.
- Colonoscopy —A thin, lighted tube with a tiny camera attached is inserted into the rectum. The inside of the entire colon and rectum are examined. If a polyp or abnormal tissue is discovered, it may be removed and reviewed for further testing. For most patients, this is the standard for examining the colon.
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- Does not require the introduction of firm tubes (as do endoscopy and barium enema)
- No risk of possible injury to the bowel
- Sedation is not needed, recovery time is shorter
- Transportation to and from the procedure is not needed
- Urine and blood tests
- Additional physical exam
- X-rays of various parts of the body, including lungs, bladder, kidneys, lymph nodes
- Barium enema to check the colon and rectum
- CT scan —This is a series of x-rays put together by a computer to make detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
- Ultrasonography—In this procedure, sound waves are bounced off body tissues. The echoes produce a picture.
- MRI scan —A magnet linked to a computer is used to create detailed pictures of areas inside the body.
- PET scan —This is a relatively new way of looking for small amounts of cancer that may have spread or not responded to treatments. A radioactive sugar molecule is injected into your vein. The scan is taken a few hours later. Tumors use sugar faster than normal tissues. The radioactive tracer attached to the sugar molecule helps identify the tumor cells.
- Stage 0 (also called “carcinoma in situ”)—In this stage, abnormal cells are found only in the innermost lining of the colon.
- Stage I (also called Dukes’ A colon cancer)—Cancer has spread beyond the innermost lining of the colon to the second and third layers and involves the inside wall of the colon. However, it has not spread outside the colon wall.
- Stage II (also called Dukes’ B colon cancer)—Cancer has spread beyond the muscular walls of the colon and has spread as far as the fat or thin skin that surrounds the colon and rectum. It has not yet gone to the lymph nodes. Lymph nodes are bean-shaped structures found throughout the body that help filter lymph and fight infection and disease.
- Stage III (also called Dukes’ C colon cancer)—Cancer has spread to nearby lymph nodes, but not to other parts of the body.
- Stage IV (also called Dukes’ D colon cancer)—Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, such as the liver and lungs.
- Recurrent —Recurrent cancer means that the cancer has returned after undergoing treatment.
National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/ .
- Reviewer: Mohei Abouzied, MD
- Review Date: 09/2012 -
- Update Date: 00/91/2012 -