What tests are carried out by a doctor to diagnose Intestine cancer?
This section lists common tests. It is not necessary for all the tests to be performed and your doctor will select the tests that will provide maximum information about the tumor/ disease.
This test helps the doctor to check the last six to eight centimetres of your intestine. Your doctor will insert a gloved finger into your anus to feel inside your rectum for anything unusual. The test will be a little uncomfortable and may make you feel like you are going to open your intestines, but you won’t lose control.
Sigmoidoscopy / Colonoscopy
A flexible lighted tube fitted with a camera (endoscope) will be put into your anus to see the lining of your Intestine. If the doctor sees anything unusual, they can pass small tools into the scope and take out some tissue. The tissue can be examined under a microscope for a diagnosis.
A biopsy is nothing but diagnosis made under a microscope by a pathologist using a small bit of tissue removed from a suspicious area or lump that is found to be abnormal. During the colonoscopy if the doctor sees anything unusual, they can pass small tools into the scope and take out some tissue that can then be examined under a microscope. This test gives a confirmation of cancer.
Computerised tomography (CT) scan
A CT scan is a type of x-ray that gives a picture of organs and other structures (including any tumours) in your body. It is used to see more details of a cancer and its relation to the surrounding organs in your body. It also gives information related to cancer spread into the lymph nodes, liver or lungs.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
This test is like a CT scan, but it uses magnetism instead of x-rays to build up pictures of the organs in your abdomen. Like a CT scan, MRI is painless and the magnetism is harmless. MRI scan may be more informative in cases of low rectal cancers.
Endorectal ultrasound scan
If a cancer is found in the rectum by other tests, your doctor may ask you to have a special ultrasound of the rectum for more detailed information about the local spread of the tumor.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan
This test is combined with a CT scan by injecting a radioactive material in the body to highlight all areas where the tumor has or can spread. This test may be used to build up more information after an MRI or CT scan. PET scan is not necessary for all patients. Your doctor will decide if you need to undergo this scan.
Apart from haemoglobin and routine blood tests, a specific tumor marker test called CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) will also be done. This blood test looks for a substance (CEA) that is produced in high quantities by intestine cancer cells.