Colorectal cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the colon or rectum. It is the third most common type of cancer in both men and women, and early detection is key to successful treatment.
One of the most important ways to detect colorectal cancer early is through regular colonoscopy screening. Apart from colonoscopy screening, below are some of the most common screening tests for colorectal cancer.
Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a simple and non-invasive test that checks for hidden blood in the stool. Blood in the stool can be a sign of colorectal cancer or other conditions, so a positive FOBT result may indicate the need for further testing. FOBTs can be done at home using a test kit provided by a healthcare provider, or they can be done in a medical office.
Stool DNA Test
A stool DNA test is a newer type of test that looks for changes in the DNA of cells in the stool. These changes may be a sign of cancer or precancerous growths in the colon or rectum. Stool DNA tests can be done at home using a test kit provided by a healthcare provider, or they can be done in a medical office.
A flexible sigmoidoscopy is a test that uses a flexible tube with a camera and light at the end to examine the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon. During the procedure, a doctor can look for polyps or other abnormalities that may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is typically done in a medical office and does not require sedation.
A colonoscopy is a more comprehensive test that uses a longer flexible tube with a camera and light at the end to examine the entire colon and rectum. During the procedure, a doctor can remove polyps or other abnormal growths and take tissue samples for further testing. Colonoscopy is typically done in a medical facility and requires sedation.
A CT colonography, also known as a virtual colonoscopy, uses a CT scan to create images of the inside of the colon and rectum. The images can be used to look for polyps or other abnormalities that may be a sign of colorectal cancer. CT colonography is typically done in a medical facility and does not require sedation.
Double Contrast Barium Enema
A double contrast barium enema is a type of X-ray that uses a special dye and air to create images of the inside of the colon and rectum. The images can be used to look for polyps or other abnormalities that may be a sign of colorectal cancer. Double contrast barium enema is typically done in a medical facility and does not require sedation.
It’s important to note that some screening tests for colorectal cancer are more effective than others, and different tests may be recommended for different people based on factors such as age, medical history, and family history of colorectal cancer.
For example, people at average risk of colorectal cancer may be advised to start screening at age 50, while those at higher risk may need to start screening earlier or undergo more frequent testing.
In addition to screening tests, there are also lifestyle factors that can help reduce the risk of colorectal cancer, such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, getting regular exercise, avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and getting enough vitamin D.
If you’re concerned about your risk of colorectal cancer or have symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, or blood in the stool, it’s important to talk to your healthcare provider. They can help determine your individual risk factors and recommend an appropriate screening plan or further testing if needed.
It’s also important to note that screening tests are not perfect and may sometimes miss cancers or precancerous growths, or produce false positive results. In some cases, further testing or monitoring may be needed even after a negative screening result.