What is a colon cancer screening?

Because colon cancer usually does not cause symptoms until the disease is advanced, it is important to talk with your doctor about which screening is right for you.
There are many screening methods for colorectal cancer ask your doctor which one is right for you.

The two most common screening tests are:

  • Colonoscopy—recommended once every ten years beginning at age 45 in average-risk individuals 
  • The FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test)—recommended once a year in average-risk individuals who have not previously had a positive or abnormal colon cancer screening test

Other screening tests for colorectal cancer include:

  • Computed Tomography (CT or CAT) Colonography 
  • Sigmoidoscopy
  • Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
  • Double Contrast Barium Enema (DCBE) 
  • Stool DNA tests

What are the risks?

Colon cancer, when caught early may be curable up to 90% of the time. That is why colon cancer screening is so important.

Risk Factors for Colon Cancer:

Family History

If you have a close relative who has had colon cancer or a colon polyp, you may be at higher risk for getting the disease.


About 90% of the time, colorectal cancer occurs in adults older than 45. However, colorectal cancer rates are rising in people who are in their 40’s. “One in seven of the patients in my oncology practice dealing with colon cancer are under the age of 50, when screening traditionally begins,” said Dr. Lewis. “Young people with abdominal pain and gastrointestinal bleeding need to see a doctor and be screened.”


Rates of colorectal cancer are higher in African Americans compared with other races. This may be because fewer African Americans get screened for colon cancer.

Medical Conditions

Having an inflammatory bowel disease may increase your risk of developing colon cancer.


There are some risk factors you can change. These include stopping smoking, improving your diet, being active, and keeping a healthy weight.

What are the benefits?

Colorectal cancer can often be prevented through regular screening, which can find polyps before they become cancerous. Talk with your doctor about when screening should begin based on your age and family history of the disease.

How do I prepare?

Each screening test varies in the preparation. FIT tests are the least invasive and can be done at home and mailed to our lab.

How is it done?

Each screening test is different. Check with your doctor for procedures and any advance preparation required.