Tests to Detect Colonic Polyps
Colonic polyps are growths in the large intestine, known as the colon. They are common in adults. Several tests can be used to detect colonic polyps. The tests can be classified under two categories, stool tests and tests that look inside the body. Here is a description of the different types of tests in each category:
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT): This test is done to look for microscopic amounts of blood in the stool. It is a simple, low-cost screening tool for colonic polyps. It is important to note that negative FOBT (no blood found) does not mean that you do not have polyps. If the test is positive, you will need a colonoscopy to help your doctor find the source of the blood and remove the colonic polyps.
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT): This test is very specific. Like FOBT, this test also looks for blood in the stool. However, it requires fewer stool samples. If the test results are positive, a colonoscopy is recommended.
- Stool DNA test (sDNA):Changes to the cells in the colon can be checked by looking at DNA in the stool. Similar to the other stool tests, if the test is positive, you may need to have a colonoscopy.
Tests that look inside the body
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy: This test allows the doctor to look at the lower third of the colon. During this test, samples of any growths can be collected and precancerous and cancerous polyps can sometimes be removed.
- Colonoscopy: A doctor inspects the entire colon for polyps. While having a colonoscopy, samples of any growths can be collected and precancerous and cancerous polyps usually can be removed.
- Virtual colonoscopy:In this test, a computer and an X-ray make a detailed picture of the colon to look for polyps. If polyps are found in this test, a colonoscopy must be performed.
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