Colorectal Cancer Diagnosis

Colorectal cancer screening helps prevent cancer and leads to early diagnosis for easier treatment.

Screening tests like colonoscopy help doctors find abnormal growths in the colorectal area (the colon, rectum, and anus). It’s important we find and treat these growths at an early stage before the cancer spreads to make treatment and recovery easier and more effective.

Our specialists perform colorectal cancer screening every day. Our colorectal cancer screening program includes:

  • Convenient locations: We perform screening colonoscopies at Henry Ford facilities throughout metro Detroit.
  • Physician consultation: Your primary care physician may be able to perform a screening. Our colorectal cancer specialists provide information to referring physicians.
  • Screening without a prior appointment: Our Open Access Colonoscopy program lets patients schedule screenings without first seeing a gastroenterologist.

We offer a variety of colorectal screening tests.

Diagnosing colorectal cancer

We start with a physical examination or blood test to look for signs of colorectal cancer. Doctors use a colonoscopy to find the cancer, and then a biopsy (analysis of a tissue sample) to provide a definitive diagnosis.

Here is what you can expect from the diagnosis process:

  1. Initial screening: We offer colorectal cancer screening and diagnostic exams such as colonoscopy.
  2. Laboratory tests: A physician who suspects colon cancer may order lab tests to check for blood in the stool.
  3. Biopsy: The physician might take a sample of suspicious tissue to test the cells for cancer.
  4. Imaging, such as X-ray or CT scan: Your doctor may order tests to take pictures of the inside of your body, including your rectum and colon. These tests include a CT (computed tomography) scan or X-ray of the colon.
  5. Staging: Doctors identify the size of the cancer and whether it has spread, called its “stage.”

Once we confirm a diagnosis, we create a personalized treatment plan based on the stage of your colorectal cancer. Our doctors are available to consult with physicians or provide a second opinion.

Stages of colorectal cancer

Part of colon cancer diagnosis is identifying the cancer’s “stage” -- the size of the cancer and whether it has spread. Staging helps doctors choose the most effective treatment options for your condition.

Your doctor may prescribe chemotherapy or radiation therapy along with surgery. The combination of treatments can improve your outlook and help keep you cancer-free.

Physicians use ultrasound and MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to see tumors and stage colorectal cancer.

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  • Colon cancer stages
    • Stage 0: Physicians identify cancer in the inner lining of the colon (mucosa), but it has not spread deeper into the colon wall. This is also called carcinoma in situ.
    • Stage I: Cancer has spread to the colon wall and possibly into the muscle layer of the colon.
    • Stage II: The tumor has spread deeper into the colon wall. It may extend into the muscle layer of the colon and/or into nearby organs.
    • Stage III: Cancer has spread from the colon. It extends into nearby organs and into or near lymph nodes.
    • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to other parts of the body.

    Determining the stage of cancer helps doctors choose the most effective treatment options for you.

  • Rectal cancer stages
    • Stage 0: Cancer is in the lining of the rectum (mucosa), but it has not spread deeper into the rectal wall. This is also called carcinoma in situ.
    • Stage I: Cancer has not spread beyond the rectum wall.
    • Stage II: The tumor goes deeper into the rectum wall.
    • Stage III: Cancer has spread from the rectum to nearby lymph nodes or other organs.
    • Stage IV: Cancer has spread to distant parts of the body.

    The treatment options depend on the stage of your rectal cancer.

  • Anal cancer stages
    • Stage 0: Abnormal cells are found in the lining of the anus. This stage is also known as carcinoma in situ.
    • Stage I: Physicians identify cancer with a tumor that is 2 centimeters or smaller.
    • Stage II: A tumor is in the anal area, and the tumor is larger than 2 centimeters.
    • Stage IIIA: The tumor has spread to lymph nodes near the anus, or to nearby organs, such as the bladder, urethra, or vagina.
    • Stage IIIB: The tumor has spread to lymph nodes and nearby organs.
    • Stage IV: The tumor has spread to distant parts of the body.

    Your doctor will base your treatment options on the stage of your anal cancer.

A team approach to whole patient care

Our team is here to educate and support you before, during, and after anal cancer or rectal cancer treatment. We’ll prepare you for what to expect during recovery and connect you with others who understand what you’re going through.

Connect with our Cancer Team 24/7

Call us at (888) 777-4167