Screening for Colon Cancer
"I’ve found it! I’ve found it! I have found a re-agent which is precipitated by haemoglobin, and by nothing else".
Sherlock Holmes in “A Study in Scarlet” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
In the clinic a digital rectal is performed and a sigmoidoscopy. The Digital rectal involves the insertion of the gloved forefinger into the rectum to see if there are any lesions to be felt, and the uterus or prostate checked.
The sigmoidoscopy is the introduction of a disposable lighted plastic tube which enables the surgeon to see directly the last 16 to 25 centimetres of bowel. This allows for the visualization of any tumour or inflammation as well as haemorrhoids.
After treating the haemorrhoids and/or fissure there should be no blood in the stool, so a test is conducted for blood in the stool. If human blood is present a further test is recommended to exclude a cancer higher in the bowel, this is usually a colonoscopy, which examines the whole large intestine with a camera and is performed in a hospital setting. As there is a small but definite risk of injury from this procedure, the benefit of the test and its risk are carefully considered with your interests at heart.
In an effort to cut down on unnecessary colonoscopies the Clinic may offer an alternate test which supplements the older test (a lot of false positives) with an immuno-chemical test specific for human blood in the stool.