Skip to Content
UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital
DONATE Donate
SHARE TEXT

Colorectal Cancer Screening Options

UW Health in Madison, Wisconsin recommends the following colorectal cancer screening options for individuals age 50-75. After age 75, individuals should talk with their primary care provider about screening recommendations that are best for them.

 

View the brochure version of the following screening options: You Have the Power Brochure (pdf)

 

Vea la versión del folleto para las opciones siguientes de detección: Prevención del Cáncer Colorrectal (pdf)

 

Prevent and Detect Cancer
Screening options that can detect precancerous polyps and cancer
Test Description Frequency Advantages Considerations
Optical Colonoscopy 
(Screens entire colon)
The rectum and entire colon are looked at using a flexible tube with a built in camera and light called a colonoscope. Abnormal growths can be found and removed or biopsied. Every 10 years • Can look at entire colon and rectum 
• Allows for removal of polyps at time of exam
• Sedation used for comfort
• Cleansing of the colon is required 
• Sedation with recovery time; may miss work/activities
• Need a driver to take you home
Virtual Colonoscopy 
(Screens entire colon)
A CT scan of the abdomen is done while air (CO2) is put into the colon. Special computer software builds a 3-D model of the entire colon and rectum which is viewed by a radiologist to look for colon polyps and cancer. Every 5 years • Can look at entire colon and rectum 
• You can return to work/activity following the test, unless optical colonoscopy is required 
• No IV or sedation required
• Cleansing of the colon is required 
• If a polyp is found, removal may be done with optical colonoscopy the same day 
• A limited look at other internal organs seen on the CT images is also done 
• No driver needed to take you home
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy 
(Screens part of the colon)
The examiner uses a flexible, lighted tube (endoscope) to view the lining of the lower third of the colon and rectum. Every 5 years • Less cleansing of the colon is needed than colonoscopy 
• You can return to work/activity following the test 
• No IV or sedation required
• Entire colon is not screened 
• If a polyp is found, an optical colonoscopy is scheduled to remove the polyp and look at the entire colon 
• No driver needed to take you home
Detect Cancer
Screening options that can detect cancer
Immunochemical Fecal Occult Blood Test (iFOBT) This test checks for invisible blood in the stool. The test can be completed at home by collecting one stool sample. If blood is found in the stool, this may be due to a polyp or cancer and more testing is needed. Every year
• No bowel prep is needed
• May be done at home 
• Most affordable option for uninsured patients. Contact the UW Health Price Information Line at (608) 263-1507 to get an estimated cost.
• Does not detect polyps at an early stage 
• May have false-positive and false-negative results 
• Colonoscopy may be needed if test is positive for blood