Diagnosis

On the following page you can find an overview of different additional tests that can be used in the diagnostic process of colorectal cancer.

Click on the subject to find more information.

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy

Colonoscopy is an endoscopy of the colon. Prior to this examination patients have to drink a special drink with a laxative function, this will rinse the colon and makes the visualization easier for the physician. During this examination the whole inner length of the colon will be visualized with an endoscope, which will be inserted in the anus. If an abnormality is visualized during the examination a biopsy will be taken for further investigation by the pathologist. The total duration of a colonoscopy is about half an hour. If wished a light narcotic can be given during this examination.

Ultrasonography-colonoscopy

This examination can be compared to an colonoscopy. An additional feature of this type of endoscopy is the possibility of ultrasonography of the colon. The purpose of this examination is to assess the growth pattern of the tumor in patients with rectal cancer. Additionally the environment and the lymph nodes can be assessed, and if necessary a cytological puncture can be executed. This examination mainly has an additional value for patients with rectal cancer, as it can change the treatment strategy.

Ultrasonography

Ultrasound of the abdomen

Ultrasound of the abdomen

Ultrasonography is an imaging technique which uses sound waves. These high-frequency sound waves are transmitted to the body and will be echoed back by the different structures in the body. Every tissue in the body has its own way of echoing these sound waves. These registered sound waves can be visualized as an image with a computer. To have optimal visualization a conductive gel will be applied to the abdomen prior to the examination. Ultrasonography is non-invasive examination, it is painless and harmless for the patient. The duration of ultrasonography is normally no longer than 30 minutes. For patients with colorectal cancer it is done to visualize the liver, so metastases here can be ruled out.

Ultrasound

Chest X-ray

Chest X-ray

A Chest X-ray is used to visualize the organs in the chest cavity (heart and lungs). For patients with colorectal cancer an X-ray is made to rule out potential metastases to the lungs. This examination is non-invasive and the exposure to radiation is very small.

CT-scan

CT-scan of the abdomen

CT-scan of the abdomen

A computed tomography scan is a radiation projector and detector that encircle the patient. With radiation and its absorbance in tissue, sections of the patients can be made, normally with a thickness of 5-10mm. For patients with colorectal cancer this examination is used to scan the abdomen and chest cavity for the primary tumor in the intestine and potential metastases in liver and lungs.

MRI-scan

MRI-scanner

MRI-scanner

As the name suggests is the MRI an imager that uses magnetic resonance of H+-ions. Images of sections of the patient can be made and it is used for the same purpose as the CT-scan. For rectal cancer the MRI-scan is the examination of choice to evaluate the tumor growth pattern and lymph nodes. This test is non-invasive and because of the use of magnetic resonance there is no radiation hazard for the patients.

PET-scan

Positron Emission Tomography is not a standard test for colorectal cancer patients. Nevertheless a PET-scan can have an additional value when CT and MRI are inconclusive. A PET-scan is a nuclear investigation, which means that the patients gets radioactive nutrients. Some tissues, like malignancies, are known to have a higher nutrient-uptake, these can be visualized with this scan. This test is minimally invasive.

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