Test & Investigations
If your doctor suggests that you are referred for further investigations, this does not mean you have bowel cancer.
It means that further tests are needed to clarify what is causing your symptoms.
If you have several higher-risk symptoms which could be suspected bowel cancer, you should receive an urgent referral and have a colonoscopy within 30 days.
Bowel Cancer Screening Test
Bowel cancer screening involves a test for bowel cancer in people who do not have any obvious symptoms of the disease.
Bowel cancer can develop without any early warning signs. The cancer can grow on the inside wall of the bowel for several years before spreading to other parts of the body.
Often very small amounts of blood, invisible to the naked eye, leak from these growth and pass into bowel movements before any symptoms are noticed.
A bowel cancer screening test called a Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) can detect these small amounts of blood in bowel movements.
Bowel Cancer Blood & DNA Tests
In August 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Cologuard, the first stool-based bowel cancer screening test that detects the presence of red blood cells and DNA mutations that may indicate the presence of certain kinds of abnormal growths that may be cancers such as bowel cancer or precursors to cancer.
In May 2014, Australian researchers presented at an international medical conference in Chicago, Digestive Diseases Week, that the ColoVantage Plasma blood test for bowel cancer could detect 65% of bowel cancer cases increasing to 73% for cancers that are stage II or higher.
Bowel preparation to thoroughly empty and clean the bowel is required before a colonoscopy so the doctor has optimal vision and can closely examine the bowel wall.
This provides the best opportunity to accurately identify polyps or cancerous lesions during the procedure.
A two-step process of bowel preparation is normal.
A barium enema is a series of x-rays of the lower gastrointestinal tract.
The patient lies on an x-ray table and a liquid that contains barium (a silver-white metallic compound) is put into the rectum.
The barium flows through the colon and coats the lower gastrointestinal tract.
A procedure to look inside the rectum and sigmoid (lower) colon (the first 60cm of the bowel) for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.
A sigmoidoscope is inserted through the anus and rectum into the lower part of the colon (sigmoid colon). Read More
A procedure to look inside the bowel (rectum and colon) for polyps, abnormal areas, or cancer.
A colonoscope is inserted through the anus and rectum and into the colon.
A colonoscope is a thin, tube-like instrument with a light and a lens for viewing.
It may also have a tool to remove polyps or tissue samples, which are checked under a microscope for signs of cancer.
Virtual Colonoscopy & Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
Virtual colonoscopy (also known as Computerised tomographic colonography - CTC) is a procedure that uses a series of advanced imagaing that permits minimally invasive evaluation of the colon and rectum without the need to sedation.
A computer puts the pictures together to create detailed images that may show polyps and anything else that seems unusual on the inside surface of the bowel.