Colorectal Cancer Prevention Initiative: 'You Have the Power'

Scheduling Information

A physician referral is required to schedule routine colorectal screening tests. Talk with your primary care provider for how you can be tested.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. Many of these deaths could have been prevented if the cancer had been found in the early stages. You have the power to stop colorectal cancer before it starts.

 

What is Colorectal Cancer?

  • Cancer of the large intestine and rectum
  • It develops from a growth called a polyp that is not cancer yet but can become cancerous
  • It is a preventable disease, with screening colorectal cancer can be prevented
  • It is a treatable disease, if found early with screening, you have a good chance of beating colorectal cancer

How Can Colorectal Cancer be Prevented?

  • Screening is the only way to detect polyps and then treat them before they turn cancerous

Know Your Risk Factors for Colorectal Cancer

 

The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women who are at average risk for colorectal cancer undergo routine screening beginning at age 50.

 

For those at higher risk, the screening should begin at an earlier age and occur more frequently.

 

Certain factors can increase the risk of developing the disease, including:

  • Personal history of colorectal cancer or non-cancerous polyps
  • History of chronic inflammatory bowel disease
  • Strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Known family history of hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes

Individuals should speak with their primary care provider about risk factors and what exams are best for them.

 

Screening Recommendations for Colorectal Cancer

 

The following screening recommendations are for individuals age 50-75. After age 75, individuals should talk with their primary care provider about screening recommendations that are best for them.

 

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

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT)
(Does not screen colon)
This test checks for invisible blood in the stool. The test is a take-home kit. You collect stool samples on a card and mail the card to your health care provider's lab. If blood is found in the stool, more testing is needed. Every year

• No bowel prep is needed

• May be done at home
• Low cost

• Does not detect polyps at an early stage
• May have false-positive and false-negative results
• Colonoscopy is needed if test is positive for blood