Colon cancer is a leading cause of death from cancer in the U.S. The good news: We can prevent more than half of these deaths. Colon cancer screening doesn't only find cancer. We can remove polyps before they become cancer.
Who Needs Colon Cancer Screening?
One in 24 Americans is at risk of developing colon cancer. You have an increased risk if a family member has had it.
But even if you don't have a family history of colon cancer, you need to get screened. You should begin screening for colon cancer at age 45.
At UVA Health, we aim to have 80% of the eligible adults in our community screened. We share this goal with the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table.
Not Sure Which Type of Screening to Get?
You and your provider will discuss the different options available.
For online info and tools, see:
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.
Only a colonoscopy can both find and treat colon cancer. A doctor uses a flexible tube with a camera to examine your entire colon. 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 home kit looks for hidden blood in your stool, an early sign of colon cancer. Food and medicine do not interfere with the results. So this test has greater accuracy than other home kits.
This accurate, inexpensive test takes 5 minutes to complete at home. You'll need to repeat it yearly.
This 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. You do need to do a bowel prep. You'll have to repeat this screening every 5 years.
Learn about the types of colorectal cancer.
FIT-Fecal DNA (Cologuard® )
This FDA-approved stool test finds altered DNA in your stool, a sign of colon cancer. A stool-collection kit arrives by mail to your home. You mail the sample to a testing lab. Your doctor receives the results.
This home kit allows you to skip bowel prep and other food and drink restrictions. But the results tend towards false positives. It costs more than other tests. Doctors recommend taking this test every 3 years. It's available by prescription only.