Colorectal Cancer (cont.)
IN THIS ARTICLE
Exams and Tests
If your doctor thinks you may have colorectal cancer, he or she will ask you questions about your medical history and give you a physical exam. Other tests may include:
For people who have an increased risk for colorectal cancer, regular colonoscopy is the recommended screening test because 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 whether the cancer has spread. These tests include:
Colorectal cancer has a much better chance of being successfully treated when it is found early. Most people who get colorectal cancer are older than 50 and have no other risk factors besides their age.
Routine screening can reduce deaths from colorectal cancer. Some screening tests find and remove polyps before they can turn into cancer. Other screening tests look for early signs of cancer, because that is when treatment works better. Screening methods include:
Stool tests look for signs of cancer. If used as recommended, these tests may find cancer early, when treatment works better. Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are tests that find and remove polyps to stop them from turning into cancer. Virtual colonoscopy finds polyps. With stool tests and virtual colonoscopy, if there are abnormal findings, you will need to have a colonoscopy to remove any polyps.
Talk to your doctor about which test is right for you. People with a higher risk for colorectal cancer, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to begin routine testing before age 50 and have it more often.
If you have a very strong family history of colon cancer, you may want to talk to your doctor or a genetic counselor about having a blood test to look for changed genes. Genetic testing can tell you whether you carry a changed, or mutated, gene that can cause colon cancer. Having certain genes greatly increases your risk of colon cancer. But most cases of colon cancer are not caused by changed genes.
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