Bowel cancer diagnosis
If you have symptoms of bowel cancer or a screening test shows traces of blood in your stools, your GP will examine you and refer you to a specialist for tests.
If the tests show that you have bowel cancer, the specialist will work out how far it has spread. This is known as staging.
After a bowel cancer diagnosis, you are likely to see a range of health professionals, who will all play a part in your treatment.
Many people feel understandably shocked and upset when told they have bowel cancer. If you need support, call Cancer Council 13 11 20.
Learn more about:
Early and advanced bowel cancer
Some bowel cancers are diagnosed when they have already spread beyond the bowel (advanced bowel cancer). This may be because the primary cancer never caused obvious symptoms. These tests are used for diagnosing both early and advanced bowel cancer.
Learn more about treatment for:
Video: Cancer and common diagnostic tests
Download a PDF booklet on this topic.
A/Prof Craig Lynch, Colorectal Surgeon, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, VIC; Prof Tim Price, Medical Oncologist, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Adelaide, and Clinical Professor, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Adelaide, SA; Department of Dietetics, Liverpool Hospital, NSW; Dr Hooi Ee, Gastroenterologist, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, WA; Dr Debra Furniss, Radiation Oncologist, Genesis CancerCare, QLD; Jocelyn Head, Consumer; Jackie Johnston, Palliative Care and Stomal Therapy Clinical Nurse Consultant, St Vincent’s Private Hospital, NSW; Zeinah Keen, 13 11 20 Consultant, Cancer Council NSW; Dr Elizabeth Murphy, Head, Colorectal Surgical Unit, Lyell McEwin Hospital, SA. We also thank the health professionals, consumers and editorial teams who have worked on previous editions.
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