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Lab tests for colorectal cancer

What is a lab test?

To diagnose colorectal cancer, your doctor may recommend various lab tests. Your doctor will collect a blood sample, and then send it to a pathologist for further testing.

Lab tests for colorectal cancer

Lab tests aid in diagnosing colorectal cancer, determining the extent of the disease and/or following the progress of treatment.

  • Genomic tumor assessment: Genomic testing examines a tumor on a genetic level to find the DNA alterations that are driving the growth of cancer. By identifying the mutations that occur in a cancer cell's genome, we can better understand what caused the tumor and tailor treatment based on these findings. Learn more about genomic tumor assessment.
  • Tumor molecular profiling: If you have a solid tumor, we’ll try to get a sample of tissue during a biopsy or surgery. Then, we’ll test for the presence of a variety of enzymes, proteins and genes to identify which therapies are likely to be most effective. Learn more about tumor molecular profiling.
  • CBC test: Complete blood count (CBC) tests determine the numbers of the different types of cells in the blood. A CBC test can be particularly helpful in determining whether you have too few red blood cells, which causes anemia. This can be a concern for colorectal cancer patients, as they may have a tumor that’s been bleeding for some time.
  • Liver function tests: These blood tests may be done to assess the function of the liver, an organ to which colorectal cancer can spread. These blood tests may be done to assess the function of the liver, an organ to which colorectal cancer can spread.
  • Tumor marker tests: This blood test may be used in addition to other tests for people who have already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer and are being treated for the disease. The tumor marker tests check for two substances in the blood that colorectal cancer may produce: carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) and CA 19-9. The tests can help determine the effectiveness of treatment and, sometimes, disease recurrence.
  • Nutrition panel: With this test, we evaluate patients for deficiency of nutrients, such as vitamin D and iron. The test helps us identify the nutrients patients need replaced or boosted to support their quality of life. Learn more about our Nutrition Therapy program.
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