Screening for colon cancer
Screening for colon
cancer with a single test or a combination of tests reduces your chance of
having complications and dying from colon cancer.
Experts recommend routine colon cancer testing for everyone between the ages of 50 and 75 who has a normal risk for colon cancer. People with a
higher risk, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history
of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you
should be tested.
If you are between the ages of 50 and 75, screening may lower
your risk of dying from colon cancer. Screening options include the following
- Stool tests, such as:
- A fecal occult blood test (FOBT).
fecal immunochemical test (FIT).
- A stool DNA test
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy.
- Computed tomographic
colonography (CTC), known as virtual colonoscopy.
The method of screening that you have depends on your
personal preferences, your doctor's preferences, and what the clinic or office
you go to is able to do.
- Colon Cancer: Which Screening Test Should I Have?
People with a
higher risk for colon cancer, such as African
Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.
If you have a family history of
familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), you should start screening tests at age 10 or 12.
If you have a family
hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC), you
should have a colonoscopy every 1 to 2 years starting at age 20 to 25, or 10
years younger than the age at which the youngest family member who has
colorectal cancer was diagnosed, whichever comes first.
Talk with your doctor. Decide with him or her when to start and stop screening for colon cancer. These decisions will depend on how old you are, your
family history, any health problems you have, and the benefits you can
expect from regular screening.
biopsy of polyps obtained during screening reveals
hyperplastic polyps of any size, routine follow-up
screening is all that is needed. These polyps do not become cancerous.
Most doctors agree that if you have had one or more
adenomatous polyps removed, you probably need regular
follow-up colonoscopy exams every few years. This type of polyp is more likely
to turn into cancer, but that risk is still very low. How often you need a
colonoscopy may depend on the number and size of the polyps, your age, your
health, and other risk factors that you may have for polyps. Talk with your
doctor about the follow-up testing schedule that is right for you.