Screening can often prevent colon cancer

Research we're watching


Image: © Catherine Lane/Getty Images

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness month. Have you been screened? Colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, but is also highly preventable through recommended screenings. These screenings enable doctors to spot precancerous lesions that can lead to colon cancer and remove them before they become a problem. Screenings can also find cancers early, when they are most treatable. All people ages 50 to 75 should get recommended colon cancer screenings. Some people should start getting screened earlier if they have certain risk factors for colon cancer, including a family history, a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis), or a genetic condition that makes colon cancer more likely (such as familial adenomatous polyposis).

There are several tests used for colon cancer screening, including colonoscopy, which uses a device to examine the full length of the colon and rectum; stool tests; flexible sigmoidoscopy, which uses a device to examine a portion of the colon; and CT colonography, a scanning technique that produces images of the colon that are examined by the doctor.

Talk to your doctor to determine which test is best suited for your needs.