Rectal cancer can be detected through a colorectal cancer screening test. It could also be suspected because of your symptoms. The following tests and methods are used to confirm the diagnosis:

Examine the inside of your colon and rectum using a scope (colonoscopy). To observe your colon and rectum, a long, flexible tube (colonoscope) is linked to a video camera and monitor. If cancer is discovered in your rectum, your doctor may suggest that you have your colon examined to look for any other worrisome spots.

Taking a tissue sample for testing (biopsy). If any questionable regions are discovered, your doctor can use surgical equipment to extract tissue samples (biopsies) for analysis and remove polyps using the colonoscope. The tissue sample is transported to a lab where doctors who specialize in blood and bodily tissue analysis evaluate it (pathologists). Tests can identify whether the cells are cancerous and aggressive, and which genes are aberrant in the cancer cells. This information is used by your doctor to establish your prognosis and treatment options.

Tests to check for the spread of rectal cancer

The next step after being diagnosed with rectal cancer is to identify cancer’s extent (stage). Your prognosis and treatment options are influenced by the stage of your cancer.

Staging tests include:

Complete blood count (CBC), Blood tests to measure organ function, Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA), CT scan of the chest, and MRI of the pelvis.

Your doctor will use the results of these tests to determine the stage of your cancer. Rectal cancer stages are denoted by Roman numerals ranging from 0 to IV. The earliest stage denotes cancer that has just spread to the rectum lining. Cancer has extended (metastasized) to other parts of the body by the time it reaches stage IV.

Credits: Mayo Clinic

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