What happens if colorectal cancer screening test shows an abnormality?

If a screening test finds an abnormality, the health care provider will perform a physical exam and evaluate the person's personal and family medical history. Additional tests may be ordered. These tests may include x-rays of the gastrointestinal tract; sigmoidoscopy.The health care provider may also order a blood test called a CEA assay to measure carcinoembryonic antigen, a protein that is sometimes detected in greater amounts in patients with colorectal cancer. If an abnormality is found during a sigmoidoscopy, a biopsy or polypectomy may be performed during the test, and a colonoscopy may be recommended. If an abnormality is found during a standard colonoscopy, a biopsy or polypectomy is performed to determine whether cancer is present. If an abnormality is detected during virtual colonoscopy, most patients would be referred for a standard colonoscopy the same day.

This answer is based on source information from National Cancer Institute.

The type of colorectal cancer screening test you choose determines the management if there is an abnormality. If you choose fecal occult blood testing and the test shows that there is blood in your stool, it is likely that a consultation with a gastroenterologist (GI doctor) will be recommended for further evaluation, which may include colonoscopy. If you choose colonoscopy as your screening test, usually a biopsy of the abnormality will be taken during your procedure, and several pictures are taken of the area as well. If you would like a more detailed explanation, discuss your questions with the physician performing your procedure.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.