Colorectal Cancer Screening

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At UVA we're committed to the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table’s shared goal of 80% of adults aged 50 and older being regularly screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

  • One in 20 Americans is at risk of developing colon cancer
  • More than half of colon cancer deaths are preventable
  • Colon cancer is the #2 cause of death from cancer

Learn About Your Screening Options

Often, colon cancer has no symptoms in its early stages. Long-term survival depends on catching it early. Find several options for screening at UVA. View screening options transcript.


Of your screening options, only a colonoscopy can both find and treat colon cancer. A doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera to examine your entire colon. Although this test requires bowel and food prep, as well as sedation, you only need one every 10 years.

Find out how to prepare for a colonoscopy.

Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

This non-invasive home kit looks for hidden blood in the stool, which can be an early sign of colorectal cancer. Food and medicine do not interfere with the results, resulting in fewer false positives and greater accuracy.

This accurate, inexpensive test takes 5 minutes to complete at home. You'll need to repeat it yearly.

CT Colonography

This sophisticated technique uses computed tomography (CT) to create and examine a 3D image of your entire colon. While very good at finding large polyps, this scan can miss small polyps.

This procedure takes less time than a colonoscopy and often no sedation, unless you have polyps, which require a traditional colonoscopy. You do need to do a bowel prep, and you'll have to repeat this screening every 5 years. 

Learn about the types of colorectal cancer.

FIT-Fecal DNA (Cologuard® )

Available by prescription only, this non-invasive, FDA-approved stool test identifies altered DNA in your stool, which may indicate colorectal cancer. A stool-collection kit arrives by mail to your home. You mail the sample to a testing lab. Your doctor receives the results. 

While this home kit offers the ease of skipping bowel prep and other food and drink restrictions, results tend towards false positives and many find the cost expensive. Doctors recommend taking this test every 3 years.

Colon Cancer FAQs

Q. When should I be screened?

You should get your first screening at age 50, if you're at average risk of colorectal cancer. If you have a normal screening, you typically don't have to have another one for 10 years.


Q. How do I know my risk?

You may be at higher risk for colon cancer if you have:

  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • Genetic factors linked to colorectal cancer
  • Chronic gastrointestinal conditions, like ulcerative colitis
  • Always discuss your history with your healthcare provider to understand your risk level 

Q. What kind of screening should I get?

Several methods exist; each has pros and cons. Talk with your healthcare provider about which test makes the most sense for you.

Colon Cancer

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