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Colorectal cancer screening: Why is it important?


Screenings are important to ensure your body stays healthy and to detect any concerning developments, which may include early signs of cancer. Colon polyps are a common finding in colorectal screenings. It is important to remove these polyps before they may become cancerous.

Colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the U.S. each year. Colorectal cancer screenings are usually done before any signs or symptoms of the disease appear.

Tests that detect polyps and colorectal cancer look at the structure of the colon itself to find any abnormal areas, usually with a scope or X-ray test. Polyps found at this stage usually can be removed before they become cancerous.

Sarah Cannon, the Cancer Institute of HCA, recommends flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years or a colonoscopy every 10 years for those who are 50 years of age or older. Depending on your risk, there are alternative tests that can be conducted. These may include: Double-contrast barium enema, CT colonography, Guaic-based fecal occult blood test, fecal immunochemical test or stool DNA test.

If you are at an increased or higher risk of colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when you should begin screening. You may be at a higher risk for developing colorectal cancer if you have:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease
  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome

Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful weapons against colorectal cancer, be sure to talk to your doctor about your screening schedule.