Colorectal Cancer Screening

Early detection makes for more effective treatment

Screening tests allow doctors to look for cancer before you symptoms. We want to detect cancer at an early stage and start treatment before the disease grows or spreads.

Colorectal cancer screening is quite effective in its ability to find polyps (abnormal growths) and early cancers in the large intestines. Studies have shown it decreases the incidence of colorectal cancer across the population and helps reduce the number of deaths from the disease.

At Tufts Medical Center, we're highly experienced in conducting colorectal cancer screening. Primary care physicians and gastroenterologists throughout Massachusetts trust us to provide their patients with expert care. In fact, one of our experts recently provided a local newspaper in downtown Boston with a description of the importance of colon cancer screening and the techniques that Tufts Medical Center uses

Watch Dr. Roper's interview on WCVB about starting colon cancer screenings at a younger age >

Care from a wide range of specialists

The Colorectal Cancer Screening team includes gastroenterologists, endoscopists, gastrointestinal oncologists, colorectal surgeons and a geneticist. Many of our doctors are active in research aimed at improving screening methods and care for colorectal cancer.

Colonoscopy is the primary test we use for colorectal cancer screening. This involves inserting a scope into the anus and extending the scope to the right side of the colon. As your doctor pulls the scope back, he or she evaluates the colon for polyps. During this test, your doctor may sample or remove tissue that looks suspicious for a pre-cancerous polyp or cancer.

If your screening test shows no abnormalities, we'll return you to the care of your referring doctor. However, if we have concerns, you may require further care — all of which is available through our program.

For example, sometimes a colonoscopy reveals a large polyp that cannot be removed during the test. Our program includes endoscopists who perform endoscopic mucosal resection, a minimally invasive procedure, to extract large polyps. Many gastroenterologists refer their patients to Tufts MC for this procedure.

If tests show you have colorectal cancer that has grown or spread, other members of our physician team can take over management of your care. Our team includes oncologists who specialize in gastrointestinal cancers along with colorectal surgeons.

In some cases, patients have a family history of cancers that predisposes them to colorectal cancer. If you're thought to be at high risk for familial cancer syndrome, we can refer you to a geneticist who offers guidance regarding other possible screening tests as well as change the time to your next colorectal cancer screening.

Our team works together to minimize the stress involved in colorectal cancer screening and to answer whatever questions you may have. And if you need specialized care following the screening, you'll have the peace of mind that comes with receiving all treatment through one program.

We're dedicated to creating and maintaining strong relationships with referring physicians. Once your patient is in our care, we work hard to make sure he or she is comfortable and has the best experience possible. If we discover any abnormalities, we will clearly communicate next steps to you and will be available for consultation as needed.