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Endoscopic procedures for colorectal cancer

What is an endoscopic procedure?

Our gastroenterologists use imaging guidance and innovative tools to perform minimally invasive endoscopic procedures and tests that aid in diagnosing colorectal cancer, as well as treating the disease. An endoscopic procedure refers to examining the inside of the body using an endoscope, an instrument that usually has a light attached, which is inserted directly into a body cavity or organ.

Endoscopic procedures

Video: Endoscopic Procedures

Learn about how a colonoscopy or endoscopy may help in diagnosing cancer.

There are a few types of endoscopic procedures that may be used to diagnose colorectal cancer:

  • Colonoscopy: For this procedure, your gastroenterologist uses a colonoscope, which is a long, flexible and lighted tube with a tiny camera attached to its end. After inserting the colonoscope into the rectum, your gastroenterologist inspects the internal lining of the colon for polyps or other abnormalities. Your gastroenterologist may also perform a biopsy to collect samples of tissues or cells for further investigation.
  • Polypectomy (via Colonoscopy): During a colonoscopy, your gastroenterologist uses a colonoscope to perform this procedure, which involves removing small polyps from the colon or rectum. The polyps are then analyzed in a laboratory to check for cancer.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: For this procedure, your gastroenterologist uses a lighted tube with a tiny camera attached to its end to look inside the rectum and lower part of the colon (i.e., the sigmoid colon) for polyps or cancer sites. He or she may also perform a biopsy to collect samples of tissues or cells for further investigation. This colorectal cancer detection test is an outpatient procedure that does not require pain medication or sedative anesthesia.
  • EUS: Endoscopic ultrasound (EUS) helps our doctors stage rectal cancer and determine the best treatment plan for you. The tool’s high-resolution imaging enables your gastroenterologist to carefully examine the digestive tract and nearby organs, including the pancreas, liver, gallbladder and bile duct. This technology helps detect potential tumors and identify lymph nodes in the chest and abdomen to which the cancer may have spread. A very thin needle is used to obtain samples of these tissues, which are analyzed to determine if cancer cells are present.
  • Barium enema: This test is used to take X-rays of the large intestine, which includes the colon and rectum. It helps our doctors stage colorectal cancer, and in some cases, is used when a colonoscopy is not an option. For the test, your doctor delivers an enema containing barium through a thin tube that is inserted through the rectum. The solution travels through the rectum and colon, coating the organs. After the solution has been given, air is released through the tube to help the colon expand and make it easier for your doctor to see abnormal growths. A series of X-rays are then taken to reveal images of the colon and rectum. These can enable your doctor to detect polyps and other suspicious tissues which need to be looked at more closely or removed in a colonoscopy.
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