Detecting Bowel Cancer

Faecal Occult Blood Test
A simple test that can be done at home. The test detects tiny amounts of blood, often released from bowel cancers or their precursors (polyps or adenomas) into the stool. FOBT cannot actually tell if you have cancer, but is used to identify people who require further testing. Not all polyps are detected by FOBT and some small cancers can occasionally be missed, which reduces its effectiveness as an ideal screening method.

Rectal Examination
The simplest form of internal rectal examination in which a doctor simply feels for any irregularities in the lowest part of the bowel.

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
A flexible tube is used to examine the rectum and lower colon for polyps and cancer. It views about one third of the colon.

Colonoscopy
A long, flexible tube, with a tiny lens on the tip, is inserted into the rectum then guided around the colon. During colonoscopy, the doctor can remove polyps and take some tissue (a biopsy) to test for cancer. Colonoscopy is the most effective screening method, as it finds polyps and removes them.

Virtual colonoscopy
This is a type of CT scan that gives a picture of the colon. If a virtual colonoscopy shows a problem, then a colonoscopy will be needed to enable removal of growths. Whilst less invasive than colonoscopy, a Virtual Colonoscopy does not detect all polyps, which reduces its effectiveness as a screening method.

Barium Enema
Barium, a white liquid, is delivered into the rectum using a small tube. Air is used to make sure the barium finds its way into creases in the bowel & shows up clearly when x-rays are taken. This screening method detects the larger bowel cancers, but can easily miss polyps and even small cancers, making it less accurate than a colonoscopy.

General Enquiries

02 8566 1000