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How Does a Colon Cancer Diagnosis Work?
Colon cancer is known to begin in the small, noncancerous build-up of cells, also called polyps. Once these polyps multiply inside the colon, they can eventually develop and become colon cancer. An early diagnosis of colon cancer can increase the patient’s survival, and treatments are more likely to succeed.
If you are experiencing symptoms of colon cancer or abnormalities are seen in your screening test, your doctor will request to run various tests to have an accurate diagnosis. Running these tests is required to know if you have developed cancer, the stage of cancer, and how far it has spread. There are several tests available, and each has its pros and cons. You can discuss this with your doctor and decide which test is the most appropriate for your situation.
How to Detect Colon Cancer
If you encounter symptoms such as stool blood, unusual change in your bowel habits, abdominal discomfort, and other symptoms that worry you, immediately make an appointment with your doctor. Getting an annual check-up is vital so you’ll know the overall health of your body.
The screening tests will be part of your check-up, and the doctor may ask things about your medical history together with your family medical history so that they will know the possible risk factors. If you have a significant risk of developing cancer, you will also be asked if you experience various symptoms and how long you have been experiencing them.
Through different tests, the doctors can determine which type of cancer is suspected in your body. An accurate diagnosis will indicate which treatment plan is the best for you. Throughout the treatment, the doctors will use different imaging, laboratory, and other tests to monitor tumor size.
Here are a few examples of various tests on how to diagnose colon cancer:
A blood test for colon cancer is standard because it can help observe the illness if you’ve been diagnosed with colon or colorectal cancer.
- CBC or Complete Blood Count – It measures various types of cells in the blood. There are situations in which diagnosed patients with cancer become anemic for quite a while because of the tumor’s bleeding.
- Liver Enzymes – using a blood test to track the patient’s liver function is important since cancer can spread to the liver.
Doctors often run this test on colon or colorectal cancer patients. So what is a diagnostic colonoscopy? In this kind of procedure, the doctor will insert a thin, flexible, light tube with a small camera called a colonoscope through the patient’s anus and into the rectum to the colon to have a better look at the entire colon.
A gastroenterologist performs biopsy tests by getting polyps and tissue samples from the colon during a diagnostic colonoscopy or other endoscopic procedures. The sample will then be sent to the laboratory to see if there are cancer cells present in the patient’s colon.
Imaging tests are done by using x-rays and other radioactive substances to take a photo of the internal part of your body. However, you might be wondering if these imaging tests, like a CT scan, will show colon cancer or if they can detect one. The answer is yes, and imaging tests are usually performed in several ways such as:
CT Scan or Computerized Tomography
A colon CT Scan uses x-rays to create a detailed cross-sectional photo of the patient’s body. Doctors use abdominal CT scans because they can detect signs of colon cancer. This test also helps to determine if cancer has spread to nearby organs.
The use of ultrasound is to produce images of internal organs by using high-energy sound waves. Ultrasound is being used widely by doctors worldwide to check for tumors in abdominal organs like the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder.
MRI Scan or Magnetic Resonance Imaging
An MRI scan helps medical professionals to determine the stage of cancer. The process of MRI uses extreme magnetic fields and radio waves to produce detailed images of a patient’s internal body.
A chest x-ray can show if the colon cancer has spread to the lungs. However, to get detailed images, a CT scan is often used.
CT Scan vs. Colonoscopy
Most of the time, doctors prefer to use colonoscopy as a screening procedure for cancer. However, colon cancer on CT scans is non-invasive and convenient; that’s why patients usually choose this procedure. A CT scan can be compared to colonoscopy in terms of accuracy, and it requires no sedation.
Don’t Face It Alone
Experiencing signs and symptoms of colon or colorectal cancer can worry you. Knowing things such as tests to diagnose cancer can be helpful in many ways. If you or anyone you know has been diagnosed with colon cancer and needs assistance, kindly contact All American Hospice. We help cancer patients to get through the treatment by providing support and empathetic care.