NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Rectal Cancer, Version 1.2017
Blood tests are used to look for signs of disease. A
needle will be inserted into your vein to remove a
sample of blood. The needle may bruise your skin
and you may feel dizzy from the blood draw. Your
blood sample will then be sent to a lab where a
pathologist will test it. A pathologist is a doctor who’s
an expert in testing cells to find disease.
Complete blood count
A CBC (
ount) measures the number
of blood cells in a blood sample. It includes numbers
of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets.
Cancer and other health problems can cause low or
Another blood test is a chemistry profile. When rectal
cancer spreads, it can cause high or low levels of
chemicals in the blood. One example is a high CEA
ntigen) level. CEA is normally
low in healthy adults unless a woman is pregnant.
High CEA levels suggest the cancer has spread far.
Imaging tests make pictures (images) of the insides
of your body. They can show which sites have
cancer. This information helps your doctors stage
the cancer and plan treatment. Certain imaging tests
also reveal some features of a tumor and its cells.
A radiologist is a doctor who’s an expert in reading
images. Your radiologist will convey the imaging
results to your cancer doctor. This information helps
your doctor decide what the next steps of care
Your treatment team will tell you how to prepare
for these tests. You may need to stop taking some
medicines and stop eating and drinking for a few
hours before the scan. Tell your team if you get
nervous when in small spaces. You may be given a
sedative to help you relax.
Most imaging for rectal cancer is done with a large
shows one type. You will likely
be lying down during testing. At least part of your
body will be in the machine.
Pictures of the insides of your body can
be made with an imaging test. During the
scan, you will lie on a table that will move
into the tunnel of the imaging machine.
The pictures will be viewed by a doctor
who will look for signs of cancer.
Copyright © 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network