Tests For Diagnosing Colon Cancer

Submitted on March 27, 2012

Colon cancer is a common form of cancer and is formed in the lower part of the large intestines. It has been observed that people who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease are more prone to developing colon cancer. Therefore, as a preventive measure, doctors and dieticians recommend that everyone should have regular bowel habits.

There are several tests which are used to diagnose or screen for colon cancer. A digital rectal exam is the oldest test for colon cancer. However, with the improving digital methods, the images are clearer and the evaluation of colon cancer has become much simpler. With the advancement of technology, there are even home colon cancer test kits which can be obtained from medical stores. Though these tests are not completely accurate, they can be used in a simple manner. If you experience any unusual symptoms, it is recommended that you visit a doctor instead of using a home test for colon cancer. Unless insured, it is not possible to get a free colon cancer test done and it is always recommended that you visit your physician if you notice any abnormalities in your system.

How to test for Colon Cancer

Colonoscopy is one of the oldest and the most reliable methods to check for cancerous growths in the colon. This test can help the physician see inside the colon, by inserting a colonscope inside the rectum. The colonoscope is a medical instrument, which is shaped like a flexible tube and has a small light and a video chip on one end. This colonoscope is inserted into the rectum of the patient and then further guided along the colon to take photographs of the interior of the organ. The instrument may also be used to retrieve biopsies and polyps for further study.

Another test for colon cancer is the Sigmoidoscopy. In this test, the doctor studies only one third of the intestine. The sigmoid colon and the rectum are the only two organs studied in this test. Using the sigmoidoscope, which is an instrument similar to the colonoscope, the doctor can study the organs for any abnormal growths and polyps. Both these tests, though intrusive, can be performed in about half an hour. It is recommended that those who are above the age of fifty should have these tests every two to five years to screen for colorectal cancer. Another test for colon cancer is known as the barium enema and uses radioactive barium and an x-ray to check the colon and the rectum for abnormal growths.

Those who have a history of colorectal cancer or Crohn’s disease should especially have this test taken every two years, since they are at an increased risk of developing this cancer.