It’s common for individuals who are concerned about a colon cancer diagnosis to be curious about the testing process. Generally, if a physician suspects colon cancer, he or she will start out by asking the patient some questions and performing a physical examination. The physical exam will likely involve manually assessing the patient’s abdomen and inserting a gloved finger into the patient’s rectum to check for any palpable polyps.
If the discussion and the physical examination suggest the presence of colon cancer, then the physician will likely order one or more of the following tests to confirm or rule out the diagnosis:
- Sigmoidoscopy, which involves visually checking for abnormal growths in the patient’s rectum and lower colon
- Colonoscopy, which involves visually checking for abnormal growths throughout the patient’s entire colon
- Endoscopic ultrasound, which involves bouncing sound waves off of the patient’s internal organs to produce a sonogram
- Imaging tests, such as a CT scan, MRI, PET scan or X-ray
- Fecal immunohistochemistry test, which checks for the presence of certain proteins in the patient’s stool
- Fecal occult blood test, which checks for the presence of blood in the patient’s stool
- Biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of tissue and then examining it under a microscope
- Molecular testing, which identifies certain genes, proteins and other tumor properties in a tissue sample
Colon cancer testing at Moffitt
The specialists in Moffitt Cancer Center’s Gastrointestinal Oncology Program have experience conducting all of the colon cancer tests described above. And in addition to performing diagnostic testing for individuals with signs of colon cancer, we also offer colon cancer screening services for people who aren’t experiencing any symptoms of this malignancy. Regular colon cancer screening is recommended for individuals between the ages of 50 and 75, as well as for younger people who have Crohn’s disease, familiar adenomatous polyposis, inflammatory bowel disease, Lynch syndrome or ulcerative colitis.