Colon Cancer Screenings

Most colon cancers develop from polyps that can turn into cancer. Screenings can find polyps before they are cancer. People at average risk of colon cancer are recommended for screening starting at age 50. Some people may be at higher risk and need to be screened earlier than age 50:

  • African Americans

  • People who have close relatives with cancer

  • Patients with IBD (inflammatory bowel disease)

  • Certain genetic syndromes

  • People with a history of colon cancer or polyps

  • Lifestyle factors: obesity, smoking, heavy alcohol use, eating a lot of red meat and fatty foods

Talk to your doctor about the best time to schedule a colonoscopy screening. 

Which type of Colorectal Cancer Screening Test is Right for You?

Each type of screening test has pros and cons to think about before making a decision. Talk with your family doctor about which types of tests are right for you and how often you should be screened for colorectal cancer. That is your first step to care.

Colon Cancer: What You Need to Know

Here's a quick guide to understanding colon cancer, including symptoms, who's at risk, and taking steps to prevent it.
Learn More

Colonoscopy

The best way to prevent colon cancer is to have a screening colonoscopy.  A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at the inner lining of the large intestine (colon) and to remove any polyps that might turn into cancer.  

You can read more about having a colonoscopy.

Fecal Occult Blood Test | FIT

FIT test is also known as the fecal immunochemical test.  The main use of the FIT test is to screen for early colon cancer. The first part of this test can be done by you in the privacy of your own home.  Your doctor will give you a test kit to take home.  You will collect a small stool sample and then mail the test kit with your sample back to your doctor or lab.  They will check the sample for blood.  If anything unusual is found in the sample, your doctor may order additional tests, such as a colonoscopy.

Other Colon Cancer Screening Tests

  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – With a sigmoidoscopy, your doctor is able to see only part of the colon and the entire rectum.  The doctor will look for polyps and signs of cancer.  The exam takes 10-20 minutes. 
  • CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy) – Your doctor will use x-rays and computers to get pictures of your whole colon.
  • FIT-DNA – A DNA test that looks for gene changes that may be a sign of cancer. The first part of this test can be done by you in the privacy of your own home. Your doctor will give you a kit to take home.  You will collect a whole bowel movement and then mail the test kit with the sample to a lab. If anything unusual is found, your doctor may order additional tests, such as a colonoscopy.
  • Guaiac-based Fecal Occult Blood Test (gFOBT) – This stool guaiac test looks for blood in a stool sample that you may not be able to see for yourself. The first part of the test can be done by you in the privacy of your own home.  Your doctor will give you a test kit to take home.  You will use a stick to take a small stool sample.  You will mail the test to your doctor or lab. The samples will be tested for blood.  This test needs you to take 3 separate samples.  If anything unusual is found, your doctor may order additional tests, such as a colonoscopy.