Colorectal Cancer Screening & Detection

Colorectal cancers occur when cells lining the colon or the rectum become abnormal and grow out of control. Screening for colorectal cancer is important because the early stages of the disease, when it's most curable, do not cause symptoms.

Symptoms for colorectal cancer include:

  • A change in bowel habits (diarrhea, constipation, narrowing of stool) that lasts beyond a few days
  • Continuously feeling the need to move one’s bowels, even after doing so
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in the stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Weakness and tiredness

Colorectal cancer can be effectively prevented with early detection and removal of polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon and rectum before they become malignant.  Screening tests can find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best and the chance for a full recovery is very high.

Greenwich Hospital's colorectal specialists offer the following screening procedures:

Colonoscopy:  The doctor uses a colonoscope (a flexible tube-like device equipped with a miniaturized camera) to view the entire colon and detect small polyps (precancerous growths attached to the wall of the colon). Suspicious polyps are often removed during a colonoscopy and, if necessary, a biopsy is performed. Undetected polyps can grow into malignant tumors.  Many experts recommend men and women undergo a colonoscopy at age 50 with follow-up screenings. People with a family history of colorectal cancer or other risk factors should begin having colonoscopies at an earlier age.

Digital Rectal Exam: A digital rectal exam is performed at annual checkup.

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT): Also known as a stool blood test, an FOBT is performed yearly to find hidden (occult) blood in the stool. If the test is positive, further tests, such as a colonoscopy, are performed to determine the cause of bleeding.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: The doctor uses a narrow, flexible, lighted tube to look at the inside of the rectum and the lower portion of the colon. During the exam, the doctor may remove some polyps (abnormal growths) and collect samples of tissue or cells for closer examination. This test is recommended every 5 years. (If polyps are found, you will need a follow-up colonoscopy.)

Diagnostic Imaging / Barium Enema with Air Contrast: To get high-quality x-rays of the colon, a chalky substance is used to partly fill and open the colon. Air is then pumped in to expand the colon.

Colonoscopy is offered at our Endoscopy Center. Additional diagnostic and treatment procedures may be done at the main hospital or the Bendheim Cancer Center.