St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center

Colorectal & Gastrointestinal (GI) Cancer


Diagnosis is the first crucial step on the way to recovery. A careful diagnosis leads to a more accurate treatment plan for you.

At St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center, we understand that sometimes the hardest part of the diagnosis phase is waiting. We strive to complete your testing in a timely manner so that if the final diagnosis is cancer, you can begin treatment immediately.

Diagnostic Tests for Colorectal Cancer

Your doctor first performs a thorough physical examination and takes your medical history. Your doctor is checking for lumps or anything else unusual. Be specific when explaining about your health habits and past illnesses and treatments, as these will help your doctor diagnose your condition.

Other tests your doctor may order include:

  • Digital rectal exam (DRE): Your doctor inserts a finger into your rectum to check for lumps or any abnormalities.
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): You collect a stool sample in the privacy of your own home and then send it to the doctor’s office for analysis.
  • Double-contrast barium enema or barium X-ray: This is an X-ray exam of the rectum and colon.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This allows your doctor to examine the rectum and lower portion of the colon. Your doctor inserts a flexible, lighted tube called a sigmoidoscope into the anus in order to visualize the area. It is an uncomfortable procedure but not painful.
  • Colonoscopy: This is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy, but it allows your doctor to view the entire colon. During a colonoscopy, your doctor is able to remove polyps. Again, while the exam is uncomfortable, it is not painful and your doctor can give you medication to help you relax.
  • Colon biopsy: Your doctor removes tissue from your colon and sends it to a pathology lab for analysis. A biopsy can provide a definitive diagnosis. The biopsy can be done during a colonoscopy.

When you receive your final diagnosis, you are ready to begin colorectal cancer treatment at St. Anthony’s Cancer Care Center.