Because colorectal cancer is typically a slow-growing cancer, it provides us with the opportunity to treat it with a high probability of success if the cancer is detected early on.
For this reason, we recommend you begin having routine screenings at age 50, or earlier if you have risk factors, such as: a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or colorectal polyps; a history of inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis; other genetic conditions such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (Lynch syndrome). Certain lifestyle factors such as smoking, diet, alcohol, lack of regular physical activity may also contribute to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
We also offer genetic testing and counseling for patients who may be at hereditary risk for developing colorectal cancer.
Colorectal cancer is highly treatable when caught early.
Depending on your initial screening results, your doctor will recommend a schedule and the procedures to be used for future screenings.
Visual Screening Tests
Colonoscopy: During this test, the doctor gently inserts a thin, lighted flexible tube (colonoscope) into your rectum and guides it through the entire large intestine (colon) checking for polyps or other signs of cancerous growth. Images of the colon are viewed on a video screen. Polyps and other tissue samples may be removed and analyzed by the lab for further diagnosis. For individuals at average risk average risk for developing colorectal cancer, we recommend you undergo this procedure every ten years, beginning at age 50.
Colonoscopy is the only test that allows your doctor to see the entire colon and rectum and remove tissue that needs to be looked at by the lab. If something suspicious is found using any other screening tests, you will likely need a colonoscopy for follow up testing.
Our gastroenterologists and colorectal surgeons perform colonoscopies in our state-of-the-art endoscopy suites using the latest technologies.
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: During this test, the doctor gently inserts a thin, lighted flexible tube (colonoscope) into your rectum and guides it through only the lower part of the large intestine (colon) checking for polyps or other signs of cancerous growth. Images of the colon are viewed on a video screen. The American Cancer Society recommends this procedure every five years. If polyps or other abnormalities are identified, you will likely need a colonoscopy for further testing.
Computerized Tomography (CT) colonography or “Virtual Colonoscopy”: This test uses x-rays and a computer to create images of your rectum and colon from outside of the body to show polyps and cancer. The test requires a full colon clean out preparation. If polyps are discovered, you will likely undergo a colonoscopy for further testing. For individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends this test every three years.
Stool-based Screening Tests
These simple stool-based tests are easily done at home. They check for blood in the stool that is usually not visible to the naked eye, a possible sign of colorectal cancer.
Fecal Immunochemical Test: Also known as a FIT test or FIT kit. This stool test detects blood in the stool. If the results indicate that there is blood in the stool, a follow-up colonoscopy is required to determine the source of the bleeding. The American Cancer Society recommends this test every year.
FIT-fecal DNA test: This test is also called a multitarget DNA stool test (Cologuard®). It looks for both blood and DNA, or genetic material shed by cancerous tumors and some polyps in the stool. If your doctor detects an abnormality, a follow-up colonoscopy is required. The American Cancer Society recommends this test every three years.