What is the Diagnostic procedure for colon cancer?

Colon cancer starts in the colon and is usually grouped together with colorectal cancer as they have similar features. Diagnosing for colon cancer at its early stage can help in curing it very quickly and reduces the chance of death.

One can decide on doing a screening for cancer if they have a family history of colon cancer. Ideally, one can opt for screening at the age of 45. There are several screening tests that exist having its own advantages and drawbacks.

If one is experiencing signs and symptoms similar to that of colon cancer, your doctor may recommend the following tests and procedures to confirm the disease:

Colonoscopy is a procedure that examines the inside of one's colon. It uses a long and flexible, slender tube which is attached to a video camera and monitor to view and examine your colon and rectum area. If the doctor detects any suspicious activity or area, they pass surgical tools through the tube and take tissue samples or biopsies for analysis. 

Blood Tests aren't sufficient enough for determining and confirming the diagnosis but the doctor would ask for a few blood tests to understand your body's overall health, for example, your kidney and liver function tests.

The doctor may also test the blood for a chemical which is usually produced by the colon cancer called as carcinoembryonic antigen or CEA. This will be monitored by the doctor at regular intervals to understand and see whether your cancer responds to the treatment or not.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy is like Colonoscopy but only surveys the colon area. If polyps are found, they are removed during the test or taken for colonoscopy.

Double contrast barium enema is a kind of X-ray test which involves putting a liquid called barium in the rectum, which spreads to the colon. Air is then pumped to spread the barium in a thin, smooth layer to give better details. There is no sedation needed in this procedure. 

CT Colonography which is also called as virtual colonoscopy scans the colon area to produce detailed cross-sectional images so that the doctor can lookout for polyps or cancer. It requires bowel preps but no sedation. It needs air to be pumped into the colon and then the scanner is used to take images of the colon to detect any suspicious activity. 

A Flexible sigmoidoscopy, Double contrast barium enema, and CT Colonography need to be repeated every 5 years.

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