Screening Methods

In the process of colon cancer screening, your surgeon may choose one of one of the following tests:

Fecal occult blood test

When the colon contains polyps or mild cancer, there may be bleeding that cannot be detected by the naked eye. For this reason, the fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, can be used to find blood in stool. It has been found that when performed every 1 or 2 years in patients age 50 to 80, FOBT can reduce colorectal cancer deaths by 15 to 33 percent.


This test is similar to a colonoscopy, in that it uses a flexible, lighted scope. A sigmoidoscopy can be used in colon cancer screening to examine the rectum and the lower colon. During this exam, tissue from within the colon may be biopsied for further examination. Additionally, a sigmoidoscopy is capable of removing cancerous or precancerous polyps within the colon.


While a sigmoidoscopy only examines the lower portion of the colon, a colonoscopy can be used to examine the entirety of the colon, ensuring a more thorough exam. During a colonoscopy, the gastroenterologist can pass tools through the scope to remove polyps or collect colon tissue for examination. Some form of sedation is generally necessary for this procedure.

Virtual colonoscopy

This utilizes a computerized tomographic (CT) scan to image the colon, allowing a gastroenterologist to visualize any polyps or precancerous growths that may be present. A virtual colonoscopy is 100% non-invasive and sedation is not needed, making for a more comfortable experience. A virtual colonoscopy will still require a thorough cleansing of the colon prior to the exam.

Double contrast barium enema

As an initial step for this test, the patient is given an enema with a barium solution, and air is used to gently inflate the colon. Next, a series of x-rays are taken and compiled, providing the gastroenterologist with a view of the colon. While DCBE can be effective in some cases, it has been found to miss small polyps and will only detect 30 to 50 percent of cancers that may be found with a standard colonoscopy.

Different tests are used for different circumstances. Since no two patients are alike, your case is unique and the experts at the Colorectal Center Los Angeles will treat you accordingly. Please give us a call today and find out how we can provide you with the most caring and thorough colon cancer screening Los Angeles has available.

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