Skip to content

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Colorectal Cancer - Exams and Tests

If your doctor thinks you may have colorectal cancer, he or she will ask you questions about your medical history and give you a physical exam. Other tests may include:

  • A colonoscopy. Your doctor uses a lighted scope to view the inside of your entire colon. Polyps can be removed during this test. A colonoscopy is recommended when another screening test shows that you may have colorectal cancer.4
  • A sigmoidoscopy. Your doctor uses a lighted scope to view the lower part of your intestine. Doctors can also remove polyps during this test.
  • A barium enema. A whitish liquid with barium is inserted through your rectum into your intestine. The barium outlines the inside of the colon so that it can be seen on an X-ray.
  • A biopsy. A sample of tissue is taken from the inside of your intestine and examined under a microscope. A doctor called a pathologist can look at the tissue sample and see if it contains cancer.
  • A complete blood count, which is a blood test. It is used to look into symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, anemia, bruising, or weight loss.

For people who have an increased risk for colorectal cancer, regular colonoscopy is the recommended screening test. It allows your doctor to remove polyps (polypectomy) and take tissue samples at the same time.

When you are diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your doctor may order other tests to find out if the cancer has spread. These tests include:

Before your doctor recommends a treatment plan, you may also have genetic tests. These tests look for gene changes (mutations) that can occur with colorectal cancer.

    1|2
    Next Article:

    Today on WebMD

    Colorectal cancer cells
    The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
    man with a doctor
    Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
     
    sauteed cherry tomatoes
    Fight cancer one plate at a time.
    bladder cancer x-ray
    Do you know the warning signs?
     
    bread
    ARTICLE
    Colon vs Rectal Cancer
    VIDEO
     
    New Colorectal Treatments
    VIDEO
    can lack of sleep affect your immune system
    FEATURE
     
    Cancer Facts Quiz
    QUIZ
    Virtual Colonoscopy
    VIDEO
     
    Picture of the Colon
    ANATOMY
    Vitamin D
    SLIDESHOW
     

    WebMD Special Sections