Colon cancer is characte rized by the development of cancerous polyps in the large intestine, and it is the third most common type of cancer in the U.S. Around 140,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with colon cancer each year1.

The death rate of colon cancer has declined over the past several decades, with colon cancer awareness and prevention improving specifically in the last ten years. In fact, the reduced incidence of colon cancer among the over 50 population may be directly correlated with the increase in routine screening colonoscopies. A timely, routine screening colonoscopy detects and removes polyps before they can develop into cancer.

When colon cancer is found at an early stage, before it has spread, there is 90 percent chance of cure and survival1. Unfortunately, less than half of people who should get tested for colon cancer have been screened. Take SAGA’s short quiz  to find out if you need to get screened for colon cancer today!

When and how often you should get screened for colon cancer is based on your risk factors, which include family history, history of cancer, and age.

There are many determinants to know when to get screened, and some you may already know.

These could include:

  • Family history of colon cancer
  • Personal history of cancer
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
  • 50 years of age or older
  • 45 years of age or older if African American

Everyone should begin routine colon cancer screening  at the age of 50, without exception. However, if you have a family history, you will most likely need to begin screenings at a younger age. Experts recommend getting screened ten years younger than the age of the youngest case of colon cancer in your immediate family. The risk of colon cancer slightly higher among the African American population. If you are African American, it is best to get screened for colon cancer beginning at age 45. In all cases, the outcome of your initial screening as well as your family history will determine how frequently you will need follow-up colonoscopies. Typically, routine follow-up colonoscopies are scheduled every 3 to 10 years based on the outcome of the previous screening.

If you have a personal history of cancer, or have Crohn’s disease/inflammatory bowel disease, you should consult your doctor about routine screenings for colon cancer, A personal history of colon cancer and/or irritable bowel disease you at an increased risk of colon cancer.

For more information on colon cancer or if you think you’re experiencing symptoms please contact a GI expert of SAGA. 

1American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy. Colorectal Cancer: Preventable. Treatable. Beatable. Get Screened Today. http://www.screenforcoloncancer.org/myths.asp  Accessed September 18, 2017.