Diagnosing Rectal Cancer

Support Throughout the Diagnostic Process

Our physicians, nurses and support staff are here to advise you, listen to you and calm your fears. Your physicians will explain your diagnosis and compassionately offer suggestions for treatment and care. They’re here for you.

Also available for counsel, support and guidance are nurse coordinators, oncology social workers and a pastoral team. They’ll help you navigate through the system and provide additional assistance, including:

  • Social support
  • Spiritual guidance
  • Emotional support
  • Practical advice
  • Tips on coping

Call on them. They’re here for you.

Rectal cancer is a preventable and treatable disease. Many cases of rectal cancer can be prevented if the polyps that lead to cancer are detected and removed early. And early-stage rectal cancer in many cases can be cured.

As with colon cancer, early detection is key in the fight against rectal cancer.

Rectal Cancer Diagnostic Services

Scott & White offers you excellent diagnostic services. We have invested in the most advanced diagnostic equipment available, providing precise images of your GI system to detect polyps and tumors early, when cure is most likely.

Our staff includes:

  • Nationally recognized diagnostic radiologists, who expertly interpret the images, providing your oncologists with necessary details for treatment planning.
  • Board-certified pathologists. Our physicians rely on them to expertly classify and stage tumors. They, along with your radiologists, are key members of your Integrated Care Team.

Scott & White offers a variety of methods used to detect rectal cancer. Your physician may order one or more of the following tests.

Physical & Laboratory Tests

  • Physical History & Exam. Your physician may begin with a thorough physical exam and medical history.
  • Proctoscopy. In this procedure, your physician will insert a very small high-definition camera attached to a thin tube (proctoscope) into your rectum to check for abnormalities. If your physician finds suspicious tissue, he or she will remove a small sample. Tissue samples will be sent to the laboratory for evaluation by a pathologist.
  • Colonoscopy. “A colonoscopy is the gold standard in diagnosing colon polyps and colorectal cancer,” says J. Scott Thomas, MD, Colorectal Surgery.
  • Virtual Colonoscopy
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema
  • Digital Rectal Exam (DRE)
  • Biopsy

Blood Tests & Tumor Marker Tests

There are a number of blood tests your physician may order to help determine treatment options for your colon cancer. Your physician may also order one or more tumor marker tests. A tumor marker is a substance that may be found in a tumor or released from a tumor into your blood or other body fluids. A high level of a tumor marker may note the presence of cancer.

  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Liver enzyme
  • Carcinoembryonic agent (CEA). For surveillance and follow up
  • CA 19-9. Elevated levels of CA 19-9 may indicate colorectal cancer
  • Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Test. In this test, your pathologist will study tissue samples procured by biopsy, checking for specific gene changes that may indicate rectal cancer.
  • Immunohistochemistry Study. This test is performed on tissue samples procured by biopsy to distinguish between different kinds of cancer.

Imaging Tests

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