How do you decide what colon cancer screening option should be used for a particular patient?

Expert Answers

IndranKrishnanMD (Physician - Gastroenterology (Verified) ) - 04 / 29 / 2012

The purpose of the screening colon test is 1. look for colon cancer 2. look for precancerous polyps & remove them so that cancer can be prevented.

Colonoscopy is the only test which can do the second task & it has the highest sensitivity & specificity out of all the other tests. As such the preferred test is colonoscopy. However, this test involves sedation with medications & has a slightly higher risk of complications than the other tests. As such, very frail, elderly people or people who have severe multiple medical problems or problems with sedation or worried about the risks may consider other "less " invasive tests such as testing for hidden blood in the stool, CT colography & Barium x rays etc. If these tests become abnormal, then colonoscopy will be indicated to find what this "abnormality" is.
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