NCCN Guidelines for Patients™: Colon Cancer
Illustration Copyright © 2011 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
Often, polyps are fully removed during a colonoscopy. This
is called an endoscopic polypectomy. The tools used to
remove polyps are based on size, shape, and cell type.
Small polyps can be removed by forceps with or without an
electric current. An electric current helps control bleeding.
Other polyps can be removed with a snare (Figure 7). An
electric current passes through the snare loop to cut off the
polyp from the colon wall and control bleeding. Besides
bleeding, the other risk of an endoscopic polypectomy is
perforation of the colon wall.
Other colon biopsies
A polypectomy is not the only way to collect colon tissue.
Sometimes, part of a polyp or part of the nearby colon wall
is removed to test if cancer cells are present. Also, samples
may be taken from the colon wall to test for pre-cancerous
cells in people at high risk for colon cancer. Forceps or a
needle biopsy during a colonoscopy may be used for these
• The only way to know if you have colon
cancer is to test colon tissue.
• Tests that take pictures of the inside of your
body can tell if the cancer has spread.
• Tests of tissue from your lymph nodes may
show if cancer is present.
• A report of the test results will be sent to
• Colon cancers are grouped into stages
0 – IV based on how likely they are to act.
Early stages of colon cancer are more likely
to be cured.
Tests of colon cancer
3.1 Do I have colon cancer?
The only way to know if you have colon cancer is to test
colon tissue. Colon tissue can be removed for testing by
any of the methods described next. The sample is then
sent to a lab to be tested for cancer cells.