Colon Cancer Update with The Cleveland Clinic (cont.)
The most common test used to diagnose colon symptoms that suggests a cancer may be present is colonoscopy. Colonoscopy is also the most accurate screening test for colon and rectal cancer, although its use as a screening test is limited by its expense, the perceived discomfort associated with it and its relative lack of availability.
New screening tests still under investigation include virtual colonoscopy and genetic testing of DNA in the stool.
The majority of studies looking at the accuracy of colonoscopy versus virtual colonoscopy show that virtual colonoscopy is not as accurate. With innovations in software and other imaging techniques, the potential for virtual colonoscopy to be standardly as accurate as colonoscopy is possible.
If fecal occult blood testing is the strategy used by an individual, it should be done on a yearly basis with the use of three individual cards on a specified diet. If fecal occult blood testing is obtained by a finger examination in the doctor's office, and negative, it should be followed up with the fecal occult blood testing cards done at home as recommended. If the fecal occult blood test is positive on a finger examination, a colonoscopy is indicated, not retesting for fecal occult blood.
It is essential the colon be completely clean for colonoscopy to have the best chance of finding anything significant and for the patient to have the most comfortable experience possible.
There are four alternatives for cleaning the colon:
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