Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States. Routine colorectal cancer screenings are one of the most powerful tools for prevention. But too often, people don’t make this important screening a priority.
Colonoscopies are recommended for men and women beginning at age 50, or earlier if you have certain risk factors:
- Age 50 or older
- Physical inactivity and obesity
- Family history of colon cancer
- Race (African Americans have a higher incidence rate)
Depending on your personal history and risk factors, various screening options are available for the detection of colon cancer. Some of the screening options include:
- Colonoscopy – one of the most sensitive tests available for colon cancer screening. Abnormal tissue can be removed during the exam. Pre-test preparation is required.
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT), or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – lab tests used to check stool samples for blood. Usually repeated annually.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy – screens lower colon only.
- Stool DNA test – lab test used to look for DNA changes in cells, can also look for blood in stool. Typically repeated every three years. Less sensitive than colonoscopy at detecting precancerous polyps.
- Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) – CT scan produces cross-sectional images of abdominal organs. Catheter is used to fill colon with air for clearer images.
Talk with your doctor about your risk for colon cancer and the screening option that may be best for you. Find a physician.
Are you at risk? Find out by taking a free online risk assessment.