Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer refers to cancers of the colon (the longest part of the large intestine) and cancers of the rectum. It is the third most common cancer in men and women, affecting more than 140,000 people in the U.S. each year.

As is true for all cancers, colon cancer is the most curable in its early stages. Colorectal cancer usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp or growth, which can often be found and removed before it turns into cancer.

Early colorectal cancer has no symptoms, so regular screening is vital to early detection. Symptoms that may occur as the cancer progresses can include a change in bowel habits such as diarrhea, constipation or blood in the stool, cramping or pain in the lower abdominal (stomach) area and constant tiredness or lack of energy.


Who is at increased risk for colorectal cancer?

People at increased risk include men and women who:

  • Are age 45 and older.
  • Have a family history of colorectal cancer or other genetic factors, such as Lynch Syndrome.
  • Have a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps.
  • Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), also known as Crohn’s disease or Ulcerative Colitis.
  • Are obese and/or are physically inactive.
  • Have a diet that is high fat or high in red or processed meat and low in fiber, calcium, fruit and vegetables.
Learn more about colorectal cancer

Colonoscopy

During a colonoscopy, a small flexible tube with a camera at the tip is inserted into the anus. It passes through the rectum and colon to detect abnormalities such as polyps. During this procedure, your physician may biopsy or remove suspicious-looking areas. Patients are sedated for this procedure.

Cologuard

Cologuard is a stool test that screens for abnormalities in the DNA, which can be caused by cancer or polyp cells. This test is performed at home and requires a stool collection. After an appointment with your Karmanos provider, our team will help you arrange for your test to be sent directly to your home. Your Cologuard test will arrive in the mail and contain all the elements needed for at-home testing, including detailed instructions.

Screening Guidelines

Men and women at average risk should schedule their first colonoscopy at age 45 and continue every five to 10 years if the results are normal. Cologuard testing should also begin at age 45. With normal results, this test should be repeated every three years.

Those with increased risk should discuss their screening needs with their health care provider and may need to begin screening early and complete it more frequently. 

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