Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common type of cancer and the second most common cause of cancer death in the US. There is strong evidence that having regular screening tests for colorectal cancer beginning at age 50 reduces deaths from colorectal cancer.
Colonoscopy is a type of endoscopic exam that visually examines your entire colon and rectum for abnormalities. A colonoscopy is generally considered the procedure of choice for colon cancer screening. Sometimes during a colonoscopy, a polyp or abnormal tissue is found; your endoscopist may remove it at that time. A tissue sample (biopsy) of the polyp may be taken for lab analysis to determine whether further studies and tests are needed.
Who Should Have a Colonoscopy?
Colonoscopy is routinely recommended to adults 50 years of age or older as part of a colorectal cancer screening program. Your physician may also recommend a colonoscopy exam if you have change in bowel habit or bleeding from the rectum, which might indicate a possible problem in the colon or rectum. A colonoscopy may be necessary to:
- Check Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Colitis)
- Verify Findings of Polyps or Tumors Located with a Barium Enema Exam
- Examine Patients Who Test Positive for Blood in the Stool
- Monitor Patients with a Personal or Family History of Colon Polyps or Cancer
Your doctor may recommend colorectal cancer screening if you have any of the following:
- A Personal History of Colon Polyps or Colon Cancer
- A Family (Parents or Siblings) History of Colon Polyps or Colon Cancer
- A History of a Long-Term Disease of the Intestines (Diagnosed by a Doctor) such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Learn more about colon cancer and colorectal screening at www.cancer.org or www.cdc.gov/cancer/colorectal.