When it comes to colon cancer screening, you have a choice.
As we age, our risk of getting colon cancer goes up. Colon cancer, also called colorectal cancer, usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. A polyp is a growth that shouldn’t be there. Over time, some polyps turn into cancer.
At age 50, most medical groups advise starting colon cancer screening to look for the disease. There are several screening tests that have proven valuable when looking for colon cancer. The two most common options in Nevada are FIT/FOBT tests or colonoscopy. FIT/FOBT is a low-cost test you can do at home and mail to a lab that detects blood in feces. If your result is not normal you will need a follow-up colonoscopy.
A colonoscopy exam uses a flexible lighted tube inserted into your rectum and colon to check for polyps and cancer. You will need to use laxatives to prepare for the exam and will have IV sedation during the exam. Colonoscopy can find cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat and cure. And during the test your doctor may find and remove polyps before they become cancer.
When it comes to colon cancer screening, the best test is the one that gets done.
|Up to age 49||Age 50+|
|Talk to your health care provider about your family history of colon cancer or other risk factors to decide whether you should begin screening early.||At 50 begin colon cancer screening. Get a colonoscopy every 10 years or FIT/FOBT test every year.|
I've seen new guidelines that say I should start screening for colon cancer at age 45. Why is that guideline different from this website's?
Cancer screening guidelines are meant to be a guide, not a strict rule. There are several reasons why different organizations will have different opinions on what's best. Read more about that here.
It's important to talk to your health care provider about when you should start screening for colon cancer based on your risks for developing the disease and your family history.
Do I have genetic risk?
Those with a family history of colon cancer, especially close relatives who had colon cancer at a young age, may be at higher risk for the disease. Those at higher risk should talk with their health care provider about whether they should receive genetic counseling for genetic conditions such as Lynch syndrome, which causes about 3 percent of colon cancer cases. Genetic counselors can help by providing information, resources, and support to help patients and their families make informed decisions about genetic testing. Learn more about Lynch syndrome here.
Low Cost Screenings
The State of Nevada’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program funds free colon cancer screening for qualified individuals aged 50-64 who are uninsured or underinsured. Click or call Access to Healthcare Network to learn more at 844-469-4934.