Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests
Screening is the process of looking for cancer in people who have no symptoms. Several tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancer. These tests can be divided into 2 main groups:
- Stool-based tests: These tests check the stool (feces) for signs of cancer. These tests are less invasive and easier to have done, but they need to be done more often.
- Visual (structural) exams: These tests look at the structure of the colon and rectum for any abnormal areas. This is done either with a scope (a tube-like instrument with a light and tiny video camera on the end) put into the rectum, or with special imaging (x-ray) tests.
These tests each have different pros and cons (see the table below), and some of them might be better options for you than others. But the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose.
If you choose to be screened with a test other than colonoscopy, any abnormal test result should be followed up with colonoscopy.
These tests, as well as others, can also be used when people have symptoms of colorectal cancer or other digestive diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease.