Colorectal Cancer

Frequently Asked Questions

11. What are some of the tools used to detect colorectal cancer?

Here are some of the tools used to detect colorectal cancer.

  • A fecal occult blood test, or FOBT, is a test used to check for hidden blood in the stool. Sometimes cancers or polyps can bleed, and FOBT can detect small amounts of bleeding. Newer, genetically-based stool tests are proving to be more accurate than older tests.
  • A sigmoidoscopy is an examination of the rectum and lower colon -- or sigmoid colon -- using a lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope.

  • A colonoscopy is an examination of the rectum and the large intestine (but not the small intestine) using a lighted instrument called a colonoscope.

  • A virtual colonoscopy, which requires the same preparation as a standard colonoscopy, is done with an external scanning machine as opposed to a device inserted into the colon. The colon does need to be inflated with gas for proper scanning.