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How is stage 4 rectal cancer diagnosed?

Several diagnostic tests diagnose rectal cancer. Sigmoidoscopy and colonoscopy are exams in which your doctor inserts a tube into your rectum in order to see the inside of the colon. Another test that enables your doctor to view your colon is a barium enema exam, in which your doctor injects a barium solution into your rectum. The barium makes your colon visible during an x-ray, and your doctor can see if there are any abnormalities in the intestinal lining. Sometimes a CT scan is used to diagnose rectal cancer and to determine if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

The stage of your cancer may not be known until after surgery. Lymph nodes near the cancer are removed during surgery and tested. If this test is positive, rectal cancer has advanced to stage 3 or stage 4. To confirm stage 4 rectal cancer, your doctor may perform a CT scan on other parts of your body.

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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.