Several tests are available to help diagnose colon cancer. While imaging tests, such as MRI, are a beneficial tool, they alone cannot diagnose colon cancer. A doctor typically recommends an MRI after a colon cancer diagnosis. An MRI is useful for determining the location and size of the cancer and whether it has spread to the surrounding organs.
Colon cancer is one of the
As such, screening tests, such as stool tests and colonoscopy, are important, as they can
In this article, we will discuss the role of an MRI scan in identifying colon cancer and compare MRI with other imaging and diagnostic tests.
MRI, also known as magnetic resonance imaging, is a useful tool that can help with the diagnosis of colon cancer. MRI scans can play a
An MRI scan uses magnets and radio waves to produce exceptionally detailed cross-sectional images of soft tissues in the body from many angles. Due to these many different views, an MRI scan can identify a tumor’s location and size and tell if it has spread to the surrounding tissues. It can also be a useful tool for monitoring how well treatment is working.
To perform an MRI to detect colon cancer, a medical professional may use a special dye called
MRI vs. CT scan
Currently, the CT scan is the standard imaging modality used in preoperative local staging of colon cancer. It has reasonable accuracy in identifying locally and nonlocally advanced colon cancer. However, studies from
MRI scans are slower than CT scans and require the person to remain still. However, CT scans expose a person to more radiation.
Read more about the differences between CT scans and MRI.
MRI vs. ultrasound
Medical professionals typically use ultrasound less often than other imaging modalities, as ultrasound is usually less accurate than the other options. However, ultrasound does have the
MRI vs. X-ray
After a diagnosis of colon cancer, a person
MRI vs. PET scan
A doctor will
MRI vs. angiography
Angiography is a form of an X-ray that involves injecting a dye to help
MRI vs. barium enema
A barium enema involves using a chalky contrast material to help outline the colon and highlight any abnormalities on an X-ray. However, it is not the most accurate procedure for colon cancer and may only be advisable as an option if other modalities are not possible.
If a person presents with symptoms of colorectal cancer, or if the screening tests show abnormal results, a doctor will recommend
Medical and physical exam
Doctors will begin the evaluation by asking about the person’s medical history and family history to learn about their risk of colorectal cancer. They will also ask more questions about the person’s symptoms, such as when they began.
A physical exam may involve palpating any enlarged organs and masses in the abdomen and performing a digital rectal exam. These exams mainly serve to help locate abnormal masses that may require further testing.
Blood in stool
Blood in the stool that is not visible to the naked eye, known as occult blood, can be a sign of cancer. Blood stool tests that can identify the presence of occult blood include guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and fecal immunochemical test (FIT). A person can do both tests at home by collecting stool samples in tubes and then sending them to the lab for testing.
Fecal DNA test
Also known as multitargeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA), or FIT-DNA, this test can
Aside from checking for blood in the stool, doctors may recommend blood tests to determine if a person has colon cancer. Doctors also use these tests to monitor the disease and a person’s response to treatment.
- Complete blood count (CBC): A person with colorectal cancer may have anemia due to long-term bleeding.
- Liver function test: Liver enzymes may be elevated if the cancer has spread to the liver.
- Tumor marker cells: Blood tests may also check for a specific protein called carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA).
For this procedure, a doctor inserts a thin, flexible tube with a video camera and light through the anus and into the rectum and colon. They may also use colonoscopy to help them remove polyps and get tissue samples for further testing. Doctors recommend that people who do not have an increased risk of colon cancer undergo colonoscopy
A doctor may also perform a similar procedure known as a sigmoidoscopy. This test uses a shorter tube that checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and lower third of the colon. A doctor may perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy every
While other tests can detect cancer, it is only through a biopsy that a doctor can make a definitive diagnosis of colorectal cancer. A biopsy involves removing a small tissue sample for further examination under a microscope. Doctors typically perform a biopsy during colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy.
MRI is an imaging scan that a doctor may recommend as an additional test to help diagnose colon cancer. While MRI cannot diagnose colon cancer alone, it plays a vital role in the diagnostic process. Additionally, it helps doctors stage the cancer, which is important for determining a treatment plan and providing an outlook.
Aside from MRI, doctors may also use other imaging modalities, such as CT scan and ultrasound, to help detect colon cancer. By also using diagnostic tests, such as colonoscopy and biopsies, a doctor can accurately diagnose cancer and suggest suitable treatment.