Colon & Rectal Cancer: How to Detect a Recurrence

Medically reviewed by: Gary H. Hoffman, MD
Colon Cancer And Rectal Cancer Can Return. How To Detect A Recurrence.
Regular testing for colon cancer is imperative, both or those who have survived colon cancer and those who want to help prevent it. Thanks to improvements in colonoscopy technology and awareness of its importance, it has helped save many lives before colon cancer even develops.

Colon Cancer.  Gone For Good.  Hopefully.

Colon cancer recurrences can be a major fear if you’ve already gone through successful treatment in Beverly Hills or Los Angeles.. Thanks to improvements in colonoscopy technology and patient awareness, colonoscopy has helped save many lives before colon cancer even develops. But for those who’ve survived colon cancer, there’s always the chance it could silently recur.  Is it appropriate to perform tests to make sure that a colon cancer survivor doesn’t have a recurrence?

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In a recent report from, doctors are evaluating two simple tests, to be performed periodically, to make sure colon cancer has not returned.

Two Tests:  CT Scan.  CEA (Blood Test)

The first test is the common CT scan as part of the post-screening process. However, a simple blood test called a CEA (carcinoembryonic antigen) is also used  as an adjunctive way to determine if cancer is still present or has returned.  Both of these tests are commonly ordered by your proctologist (also know as a colon and rectal surgeon, or proctologist)  Both can be performed as an outpatient at facilities such as Cedars-Sinai Medical in Los Angeles.

CEA is a specific protein that some colon cancers  produce. If the carcinoembryonic antigen is found in the body of an adult colon cancer survivor, it may indicate that the cancer has returned.  The postoperative level of CEA is compared with the level taken before surgical remove of your tumor.

Both Tests.  Separate?  Together?  And Don’t Forget Colonoscopy!

However, there has been debate about whether both of the above testing procedures should be used separately or together to help obtain more accurate results.

Additionally, post treatment colonoscopy should also be used regularly in the postoperative period to evaluate the colon lining.

Is One Test Better Than the Other?

Each test has its own purpose and sensitivity. Not all cancers produce the CEA protein. Not all cancers are readily visualized on CT scan. CEA tests done alone have an occasional misleading result that a CT scan manages to clarify accurately. While the CEA tests are common and are not expensive when used as a surveillance test, it performs well enough in other studies to be useful. Nevertheless, it seems to that a combination of a CT scan and CEA tests may be needed in order to gain a fully accurate picture.

CEA is certainly an easier and more affordable option when used alone, as postoperative screenings can become expensive for the patient.

Advances in early detection have reduced cancer recurrence to levels much lower than in prior years,  And now that better and simpler screening tools are available, you do not have to live in fear, playing guessing games to whether your colon cancer has returned.

Los Angeles Colon And Rectal Surgical Associates.

At Los Angeles Colon & Rectal Surgical Associates, surgeons can help you get tested properly and have treatment for many different colon and rectal conditions. To ask about getting tested, or to learn about colonoscopy, colon cancer screening and treatment, make an appointment by calling (310)273-2310.  Your confidential appointment will start you on the path toward peace of mind.

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