Prevent It

By age 35 or sooner in some cases, you should have a talk with your doctor to assess your risk level and to discuss which colon cancer screening option is right for you based on your family medical history. If colon polyps or colon or rectal cancer have affected people in your family, you need to start screening with colonoscopy at 40 or 10 years sooner than your affected relative(s), whichever is sooner. Men and women of average risk should start screenings by age 45, and many people may need to be screened sooner.

Call your doctor today to discuss colon cancer screening. If you do not have a doctor, contact your local health department. Don’t delay screening. On-time screening works best to PREVENT colon cancer. People at high risk or with any symptoms of colon cancer need colonoscopy. For those with no symptoms who are at average risk, there several options in addition to colonoscopy.

Scroll down to review these types of tests so you can be informed when you have this discussion with your doctor.

Stool based screening tests

There are two types of stool-based screening tests.
Ones that check for blood in your stool are called FOBT (sensitive guaiac test or sensitive fecal occult blood test) and FIT (fecal immunochemical test).  These tests should be done once a year. A positive test requires further testing.
The second type of stool test is called a stool DNA + FIT test, commercially known as Cologuard, This test looks for blood in your stool as well as fragments of DNA that have shed from cancers or large polyps. This test is done every 3 years. All positive tests need to undergo completion colonoscopy for evaluation.

Colon tests

These tests include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy, also known as CT colonoscopy/colonography. These tests allow doctors to check for polyps and cancer.
Colonoscopy remains the only test that allows the doctor to check inside the entire colon and remove polyps which can prevent colon cancer  But if you are not ready for a colonoscopy, be sure to be tested with one of the above options.
NOT getting tested is NOT an option.

Still not sure?

“I can’t afford it.”

Colon cancer screening tests may be available to you at little or no cost. Most insurance plans, Medicare, and Medicaid help pay for colon cancer screening tests. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered. If you do not have insurance or are under-insured, a program called the Kentucky Colon Cancer Screening Program is available to make sure you can get screened with the test of your choice including colonoscopy. E-mail the project (asmart@kickingbutt.org) and we will navigate you to a FREE screening, or contact our partner organization, KY Cancer Link: 859-309-1700 or Toll-Free 877-597-4655.

“My doctor didn’t tell me to get tested.”

Take charge of your health and bring up the topic of colon cancer testing during your next appointment, or give your doctor a call. If you have a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps, you should start screening at age 40 or sooner.  If you are at normal risk and without symptoms, start your screening on time at age 45!  Don’t delay! Screening and prevention work best when they are on time.

“I’m scared about the test.”
Talk with your doctor about any concerns, the screening options available, and the pros and cons of each test. YOU HAVE CHOICES.  They include take-at-home stool tests, CT colonography,  as well as the well-known colonoscopy.   They all work to reduces colon cancer and colon cancer deaths!  The best test is the one that gets done!
“No one in my family has had colon cancer.”

You do not have to have a family history to get colon cancer. 75% of people diagnosed with colon cancer have no family history.

“I don’t have any symptoms.”

Just because you do not have symptoms does not mean you do not need to be screened. Colon cancer is preventable and treatable.  Both colon polyps and colon cancer have no symptoms in the earlier stages of the disease, so it’s critical that you get a colon screen of your choice ON-TIME when it has the greatest chance for success.