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Alternatives to Colonoscopy

Although there are several alternatives to colonoscopy tests, none of them give the in-depth information that a colonoscopy provides. Some common tests that are considered alternatives include stool tests, abdominal x-rays, and flexible sigmoidoscopy. You and your healthcare provider, as a team, should decide which alternatives are appropriate for your situation.

Are There Alternatives to Colonoscopy?

Several tests are available to diagnose or look for problems of the rectum or colon. The choice of which and how many of these your doctor recommends will depend on your history of problems and current symptoms. You may have already had some or all of these tests, and some of these alternatives may not apply to your particular situation.
Also, these alternatives to colonoscopy can give general information about problems within the lower digestive tract, but they do not give the in-depth information that a colonoscopy provides. Colonoscopy allows your doctor to directly look at and treat some of the structures that may be causing your problem.
If you have any questions about your particular situation, you should discuss these different alternative methods with your doctor. Together, you can decide which ones (if any) of these colonoscopy alternatives are appropriate for you.

Specific Colonoscopy Alternatives

Tests that are considered alternatives to colonoscopy include:
  • Rectal exam (finger exam)
  • Stool test
  • Blood test
  • Abdominal x-ray
  • Barium enema
  • CT scan
  • MRI
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or anoscopy.
The Finger Exam
For colon cancer screening, the finger examination of your rectum does not offer very much information because of the short distance that is examined. It is limited to the first three or four inches inside your rectum. However, the finger exam is very important for the diagnosis of prostate cancer in men.
During the finger exam, the stool can be tested for blood. This is a simple colon cancer screening procedure, but it is not nearly as accurate as colonoscopy.
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Information on Colonoscopy

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