Tests for bowel cancer

You might have one or more of these tests to find out the cause of your symptoms, or to find out the size of your cancer and whether it has spread. This tells you the stage of your cancer.

Knowing the stage helps your doctor decide which treatment you need. 

Examination of your back passage

An examination of your back passage (rectum) involves your doctor feeling inside your rectum using their finger. This procedure is also called a digital rectal exam (DRE).

Testing for blood in your poo using the FIT test

FIT (Faecal Immunochemical Test) is a test that looks for blood in a sample of your poo. It looks for tiny traces of blood that you might not be able to see and which could be a sign of cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy

Flexible sigmoidoscopy looks inside the lower part of your large bowel. It can also be called a bowel scope or flexi sig. 

Colonoscopy for bowel cancer

A colonoscopy looks at the whole of the inside of your large bowel. Samples of tissue can be taken from your bowel and any growths (polyps) removed. 

Colon capsule endoscopy

A colon capsule endoscopy looks at the inside of your large bowel (colon). You might have it if you have symptoms of bowel cancer.

CT colonography

CT (computed tomography) colonography is a test that uses CT scans to check the large bowel (colon). It’s also called a virtual colonoscopy. 

Blood tests for bowel cancer

Blood tests can help to diagnose bowel cancer. 

Tests on your bowel cancer cells

Tests on your cancer cells can diagnose cancer and look for gene changes. Some of these tests can show how well particular treatments might work.

CT Scan for bowel cancer

You might have a CT scan to find out how big your bowel cancer is, and whether it has spread (the stage). 

PET-CT scan

PET-CT is one of the tests you might have to find out more about your cancer and whether it has spread. 

MRI scan for bowel cancer

MRI stands for magnetic resonance imaging. It uses magnetism and radio waves to create cross section pictures of the body. 

Ultrasound scan of the back passage (rectum)

You might have an ultrasound scan if you have cancer in your back passage (rectum). 

Ultrasound scan of the tummy (abdomen)

You might have an ultrasound of your tummy to see if your bowel cancer has spread.

Last reviewed: 
06 Dec 2021
Next review due: 
06 Dec 2024
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