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Colon Screening Information

What is the risk of colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is the SECOND MOST COMMON cancer in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing it is about one in twenty. The risk is increased if there is a family history of colorectal polyps or cancer, and is higher with a personal history of breast, uterine, or ovarian cancer. The risk is also higher in persons with a history of Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn's Disease.

What are screening and surveillance?

Many polyps and cancers of the colon and rectum have no symptoms until they become large.


Screening involves testing to identify whether a person with no symptoms has a disease or condition that may lead to colon or rectal cancer. The goal is to identify early to best prevent or cure findings.


Surveillance involves testing those who have had colon polyps or a history of colon cancer, or those who are at increased risk. Because these people have an increased risk of developing cancer, they receive more testing.

What screening tests should be done?

Colonoscopy is used to diagnose colon and rectal problems and to perform biopsies and remove colon polyps. Most colonoscopies are done on an outpatient basis with minimal inconvenience and discomfort.


Stool may be tested for blood, however; only 50% of cancers and 10% of polyps bleed, so this is not a thorough test for screening.

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