The information on this page was reviewed and approved by
Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science at CTCA.

This page was updated on May 12, 2021.

Diagnosing intestinal cancer

An accurate intestinal cancer diagnosis is the first step in developing a treatment plan for intestinal cancer. Your team of cancer experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) will use a variety of tests and tools designed for diagnosing intestinal cancer, evaluating the disease and developing your treatment plan. Throughout your treatment, we'll use imaging and laboratory tests to track the size of your tumors and monitor your response to treatment.

Common tools used for diagnosing intestinal cancer and staging the disease include:

Upper gastrointestinal series is a series of highlight X-rays of the esophagus, stomach and the upper portion of the small intestine. This procedure may require the patient to swallow barium that enhances the X-ray images. If your doctor finds abnormal cells during this procedure, the next step may be an endoscopic procedure or another diagnostic imaging test for intestinal cancer.

Enteroclysis is a test for small intestine cancer and provides the care team with more detailed pictures of the small intestine than an upper GI test.

Barium enema is performed by inserting barium into the rectum, filling the colon. X-rays taken during the enema are enhanced by the barium and may enable your doctor to better detect polyps and other suspicious tissues that need to be examined more closely or removed in a colonoscopy.

CT scan is a procedure that may give doctors a more detailed image of the colon and intestines and help determine the stage of the cancer and whether the disease has spread.

Endoscopic procedures allow doctors to examine the body from the inside. These procedures use an endoscope, an instrument that usually has a light attached, which is inserted directly into a body cavity or organ.

Next topic: How is intestinal cancer treated?