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Screenings can detect signs of colon cancer before you notice symptoms. And, the earlier you find cancer, the easier it is to treat.
In most cases, you should start getting screened at age 50. But if you have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps, you may need to begin screening earlier. Talk to your primary care doctor about the best screening plan for you.
A colonoscopy is the most effective colorectal cancer screening. This test uses a thin, lighted tube with a video camera to look for polyps in your large intestine and rectum. Your doctor can remove polyps during the procedure to test them for cancer. You’ll be sedated during the procedure.
Two days before the test, you will start eating a special diet and supplements to empty your intestine. This allows your doctor to see your colon clearly during the procedure. Your care team will give you specific instructions on how to prepare for a colonoscopy.
If you’re not ready for a colonoscopy, ask your primary care provider about doing one of these easy take-home screenings:
A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) checks for blood in your stool. This test can detect early stages of cancer but may not find precancerous polyps. If your test results are positive, you’ll need a colonoscopy.
Read why Kevin Schumann is grateful for a FIT that led to removal of precancerous polyps.
Cologuard measures altered DNA and/or hemoglobin in unusual stool cells. If the levels are high, you could have precancer or cancer. Your doctor may order a colonoscopy to learn more.