Colon Cancer Diagnosis

An early and accurate colon cancer diagnosis is vital to ensure prompt, successful treatment. Diagnosis usually occurs after a screening procedure finds evidence that cancer might be present. Regular screening is important, particularly if you have any risk factors for colon cancer.

Symptoms of colon cancer

In its early stages, colon cancer often presents no symptoms. This is another reason why screening procedures are so important. However, some symptoms that might indicate the presence of colon cancer include:

  • Blood in the stool
  • Any changes in regular bowel habits
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pain in the lower abdomen

If you wait until you experience symptoms before consulting your doctor, chances are good that the cancer will have progressed to a stage where treatment is not as likely to be successful. Following your doctor's recommendations for screening procedures can help prevent this.

Screening procedures

Several screening techniques are commonly used to diagnose colon cancer, including:

  • Blood tests. Certain blood tests can detect the presence of colon cancer.
  • Stool test. Stool can carry indications that cancerous cells are present in the colon.
  • X-rays. The doctor uses an enema to fill your colon with barium, then takes X-rays.
  • CT scan of the colon. Multiple pictures are taken to provide a three-dimensional view of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy. A scope is inserted into the colon to examine the interior tissues.

Because some of these procedures involve looking directly at the interior of the colon and rectum, some people find them difficult to consider. However, it is important to overcome any reluctance you might have regarding the procedures to ensure your long-term health.

Results of the screening

Based on the results of the screening, your doctor will make recommendations for further screening or treatment options. If nothing unusual is found, he will simply let you know when you should have your next screening. If you have a colonoscopy and polyps are found, a bit of tissue might be removed through the scope and sent for evaluation. The presence of polyps does not indicate colon cancer is also present, but it could be a symptom of other issues or serve as a risk factor for eventual development of cancer.

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