Running tests for a colorectal cancer diagnosis may be considered after abnormalities are discovered during a routine physical examination or blood test, or after certain symptoms are discovered, such as a change in bowel habits or blood in the stools. These abnormalities or symptoms may prompt a physician to conduct more tests in order to rule out other potential causes before determining a colon or rectal cancer diagnosis.
Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program employs the most advanced techniques and strategies for diagnosing colorectal cancer. Some of the tests and procedures our colorectal cancer team may use to make a diagnosis include:
- Physical examination and medical history – A physician will thoroughly examine a patient to check his or her general health, paying special attention to any unusual conditions, such as lumps or discoloration. A history of the patient’s health habits may be chronicled as part of this process.
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) – This test involves a microscopic examination of the patient’s stools, looking for signs of blood.
- Digital rectal exam – A physician or nurse inserts a lubricated, gloved finger into the rectum to feel for lumps or other abnormalities.
- Barium enema – A liquid that contains barium is introduced into the rectum, where it coats the lower gastrointestinal tract. X-rays are then taken to examine for irregularities.
- Sigmoidoscopy – A thin, lighted tube is inserted into the sigmoid colon, where the physician can then visually check for the presence of polyps or signs of cancer.
- Virtual colonoscopy – Also known as a colonography, this test uses a series of X-ray images (CAT scan) to create detailed computerized images of the colon to see if there are any abnormalities that need attention.
If any anomalies are discovered during these or other tests, a biopsy may be ordered so that the affected tissues can be examined under a microscope.
Once a diagnosis is made, Moffitt’s team of highly specialized oncologists work together to develop and carry out an individualized treatment plan. We bring together specialists from an array of disciplines to assess the condition of every patient under our care, and we closely monitor the progress of those patients through the weekly gathering of our collaborative tumor board. No other cancer center in the state of Florida offers such a high level of patient care.
Contact Moffitt Cancer Center to learn more about colorectal cancer diagnosis by calling 1-888-MOFFITT or by filling out our online form. No referral is needed to consult with our oncologists specializing in colorectal cancer.