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Colon Cancer Screening

By the time most people have symptoms of colon cancer, their chances of survival may be reduced. But if detected early, this cancer is highly curable. Recent studies have shown that screening colonoscopies can prevent colon cancer and save lives. The physicians of the Trinity Mother Frances Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endoscopy stress the importance of having screening colonoscopies at age fifty, even if you do not have symptoms.

According to the American Cancer Society and the American Society of Gastrointestinal Endoscopy, individuals with no family history of colon cancer or polyps should choose one of the following options for colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50, after consulting with their physician. Talk to your doctor about which test is best for you.

Tests that find polyps and cancer

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Double contrast barium enema every 5 years*
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*

Tests that may help to find cancer

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year*,**
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain*

*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
**For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. A FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor's office is not adequate for screening.

Individuals with the following colorectal cancer risk factors should consult with their physician about starting colorectal cancer screening earlier and/or being screened more often:

  • Personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • Personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis)
  • Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps (cancer or polyps in a first-degree relative [parent, sibling, or child] younger than 60 or in 2 or more first-degree relatives of any age)
  • Known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)

For more information visit the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy at

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