What Is Colorectal Cancer Screening?

Screening is when a test is used to look for a disease before there are any symptoms. Cancer screening tests, including those for colorectal cancer, are effective when they can detect disease early. Detecting disease early can lead to more effective treatment.
In some cases, screening tests can detect abnormalities such as polyps, before they have a chance to turn into cancer. Removing polyps in the colon and rectum prevents colorectal cancer from developing. (A diagnostic test differs from a screening test because it is a test used when a person has symptoms. The test is given to find the cause of the symptoms.)

You should begin screening for colorectal cancer soon after turning 50, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier or more often than other people if—

  1. You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
  2. You have inflammatory bowel disease.
  3. You have genetic syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer.


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