How is colon cancer diagnosed? | Norton Cancer Institute

colon cancer typically is

diagnosed from some kind of clinical presentation

so most often times people will present with some kind of gastrointestinal


usually either rectal bleeding or potentially dark tarry stools which we

call melena

sometimes people will have abdominal pain as well

Oftentimes people present with these types of symptoms they'll either

be referred to a gastroenterologist or maybe their primary care physician

will set them up for a cat scan of the abdomen

Let's say if they get a cat scan first they may find that there is a mass in

the colon somewhere

But that's not diagnostic of the cancer because you still need a

pathologic specimen which is a biopsy of the tissue

so invariably most people get referred to either a surgeon or a


where they get a colonoscopy so they get a colonoscopy and then

typically they would find some abnormality

be it either a mass for some some abnormality

which is indicative of a cancer and they take a biopsy

that biopsy then gets to a pathologist and the pathologist will look

at the

tissue specimen underneath the microscope and they'll tell us

if it's cancer and if so, what kind typically it's adenocarcinoma

so staging is the next step so staging typically involves cat-scans

so we would get cat scans usually of the abdomen and pelvis and oftentimes chest

to make sure that the cancer hasn't spread anywhere else

Staging really kinda depends on what

mode of treatment we'd undergo next

for most people were gonna check

blood levels as well as tumor markers

And then once we stage it up that

tends to you know tell us what the patient needs as far as treatment