Screening for colorectal cancer
Who should be screened for colorectal cancer?
Your risk for colorectal cancer gets higher as you get older. Screening for colon cancer is recommended for an average-risk adult between the ages of 45-75. However, some people with increased risk, like a family history of colon cancer, may need additional screening before the age of 45 and after the age of 75. Talk with your doctor about your risk and when to start and stop screening.
Colon Cancer: Screening Tests and What the Results Mean
What are the best ways to screen for or detect colon cancer?
Although there are different screening tests to detect colon cancer, the best test is the test that you can get done.
The most common colon cancer screening tests are:
Colonoscopy – a camera used to see part or all of the colon. If everything appears normal during the procedure, an average-risk person may only need to do this screening test every 10 years.
Stool-based tests – a stool sample is collected and sent to a laboratory to test for signs of colon cancer, such as blood that is not visible to the naked eye or abnormal DNA. If the tests results are normal, an average-risk person may only need to do this screening test every 1-3 years.
CT colonography – also know as a “virtual colonoscopy”, is a CT scan that uses x-rays to look for abnormalities in the colon that may be due to colon cancer or a large colon polyp that may need to be removed. This test may not be covered by all health insurance plans, which may make this test more expensive than a colonoscopy or a stool-based test (see above).