For a diagnosis full physical examination and also personal examination and family medical histories may be examined. The diagnosis is done after an endoscopy is conducted.
Endoscopy is a procedure for examining a person’s digestive tract using an endoscope. In the case for diagnosing colon cancer an endoscopy known as sigmoidoscopy or colonoscopy is done.
It involves inserting a long flexible tube with a camera on one end into the rectum for inspecting the colon inside. When polyps are found inside the colon are removed and further examined under a microscope so as to detect any cancerous cells.
The process of endoscopy begins with the patient staying without food or drinks for a number of hours before the procedure.
Through the rectum a liquid containing the element barium is injected to the colon to line the intestine then an X-ray is done of both the colon and the rectum.
The element will show white color on X-ray tumors and it will show dark outlines on polyps. To know how far the cancer has spread chest X-rays, CT scans of the lungs, liver and abdomen are done. In other cases a blood test is done to determine whether carcinoembryonic antigen which is a substance produced by some cancer cells.
The stage of cancer is determined after diagnosis and this helps in knowing choices available for treatment and it also informs prognoses. The staging method of cancer is called TNM system.
T shows how the intestine has been invaded by the cancer cells.
N shows the degree to which cancer has spread to the nearby lymph nodes.
M shows whether cancer has spread to other body organs.
Colon cancer is also grouped according to TNM classification 0 to IV. 0 Tis, N0, M0 where (Tis) is carcinoma this is when the tumor is in the inner layer of the colon or rectum only. N (Mi) shows cancer that has spread to other organs throughout the body.
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