If your doctor thinks you may have
colorectal cancer, he or she will ask you questions
medical history and give you a physical exam. Other
tests may include:
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
sigmoidoscopy. Your doctor uses a
lighted scope to view the lower part of your intestine. Doctors can also remove polyps during this test.
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.
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.
complete blood count, which is a blood test. It is
used to look into symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, anemia, bruising, or
For people who have an increased risk for colorectal
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:
CT scan to see if the cancer has spread to your liver,
lungs, or belly.
chest X-ray to see if the cancer has spread to your
PET scan to see if the cancer has spread into your
chest or organs in the belly or pelvis.
ultrasound to find the cause of belly pain or
increased belly girth. It can also see if the cancer has spread to your
liver. An endoscopic ultrasound is used to see how far rectal cancer may have spread.