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Types of Colon Cancer Screening Tests

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There are several screening tests for colon cancer. Colonoscopy is popular because if any polyps are detected at the time of the procedure, they can be removed at the time.

Other methods of screening include:


This is similar to a colonoscopy. A doctor will insert a gloved finger into the rectum to check for blockages and then insert a hollow tube called a sigmoidoscope, allowing him to examine you better. Air will be put through the tube to further open the rectum and provide a clearer view.

The scope will be passed as far up as the colon and the lining of your bowels will be examined. Because the scope is hollow, the doctor can pass instruments down it to enable him to take a biopsy or perform some other treatment.

Does it hurt?

Yes, a little bit. The scope and the air they use to inflate your rectum will make it feel as if you have to have a bowel movement and you may suffer abdominal cramps afterwards.

Fecal Occult Blood Testing

This doesn’t hurt like a regular blood test. You provide the doctor with three stool samples and he checks them for blood under a microscope. Tiny amounts of blood may be too small to see with the naked eye and blood in the stool is an abnormality which could indicate colon cancer, crohn’s disease, colitis, tears in the lining of the anus and a number of other ill health conditions.

If you are female, then you cannot have the test during your menstrual period as this would affect the result. There are a number of foods that should not be eaten for at least 48 hours prior to the test, but your doctor will be able to advise you on your diet beforehand as well as inform you about other aspects of the test.

Barium Enema

This is an X-ray of the large intestine, including the colon and rectum. After you had your bowels completely emptied, an enema tube will be inserted into your rectum and a substance called barium sulphate is flushed through your system via a bag connected to the enema tube. The barium sulphate acts as a contrast dye and as it flows through you, the doctor can monitor its progress through your internal organs on a computer screen.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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