45 is the new 50: Colorectal Cancer Screenings

Colon and rectal cancer screening is a way that doctors check the colon and rectum for signs of cancer or growths (called polyps) that might become cancer. It is done in people who have no symptoms and no reason to think that they have cancer.

The goal is to find and remove polyps before they become cancer, or to find cancer early before it grows, spreads, or causes problems.

Doctors recommend that most people begin having colon cancer screening at age 45.

“Up until last year, the common recommendations from all the societies were to start screening at age 50, but now it is recommended that adults begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45,” says Ahsan Basha, MD, Riverside Oncologist.

People who have an increased risk of getting colon cancer sometimes begin screening at a younger age. That might include people with a strong family history of colon cancer, and people with diseases of the colon called “Crohn’s disease” and “ulcerative colitis.”

There are several different types of screening tests.

Colonoscopy allows the doctor to see directly inside the entire colon. This is the ideal test because a colonoscopy finds most small polyps and almost all large polyps and cancers. If found, polyps can be removed right away, before becoming cancerous.

Cologuard Stool DNA test – The stool DNA test checks for genetic markers of cancer, as well as for signs of blood. For this test, you get a special kit to collect a whole bowel movement and send it back to Cologuard.

Stool test for blood – Stool tests most commonly check for blood in samples of stool. You collect small samples from your bowel movements and put them in a special container that you get from your doctor or nurse. The stool sample would be returned to your doctor’s office.

“Screening means you’re looking for something before you develop symptoms,” says Dr. Basha, “this is why its important to talk with your primary care provider to determine which colorectal cancer screening test is best for you.”