Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Several different tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancers. These tests can be divided into 2 broad groups:

  •  Tests that can find both colorectal polyps and cancer: These tests look at the structure of the colon itself to find any abnormal areas. This is done either with a scope inserted into the rectum or with special imaging (x-ray) tests. Polyps found before they become cancerous can be removed, so these tests may prevent colorectal cancer. Because of this, these tests are preferred if they are available and you are willing to have them.
  •  Tests that mainly find cancer: These involve testing the stool (feces) for signs that cancer may be present. These tests are less invasive and easier to have done, but they are less likely to detect polyps.

These tests as well as others can also be used when people have symptoms of colorectal cancer and other digestive diseases.