What happens if I am diagnosed with a growth in my colon or rectum?

If a growth is discovered in the colon or rectum, the follow-up care will depend first upon whether the growth is cancerous. This will be determined after a sample of the growth is taken and then examined under a microscope, usually by a pathologist.

If the tissue is non-cancerous, a patient will typically be screened again in six months to five years, depending upon personal and family past medical history. If, however, there is evidence of a malignant or cancerous process occurring, the growth(s) will need to be surgically removed. It is also necessary to identify any possible spread of cancer, which may involve more imaging, lab tests, surgical exploration and/or a visit to an oncologist, who is a doctor who specializes in cancer.
If a growth in your colon or rectum was diagnosed using a digital rectal exam, or through fecal occult blood testing (Hemoccult test), you will need additional evaluation, most likely by colonoscopy, which examines the entire colon and rectum, or, at least, by sigmoidoscopy, which examines the final two feet of the colon and the rectum. These examinations are important not only to determine the extent of the current problem but also to look for other abnormalities, which might also be present and could influence your best course of treatment. Your physician will determine which test is best for you.

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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.