Colorectal cancer occurs in the large intestine (colon) or rectum (the last few inches of the colon). Abnormal growths, or polyps, may form in the colon or rectum. Over time, these polyps may turn into cancer. Polyps may be small and produce few, if any, symptoms. For this reason doctors recommend regular screenings starting at age 50 to find polyps before they progress to colon cancer, and when treatment often leads to a cure.

Signs and symptoms of colon cancer include:

  • A change in your bowel habits, such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • Unexplained weight loss

Many people with colon cancer experience no symptoms in the early stages of the disease. If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, call your doctor immediately to schedule a screening.

Recommended Screenings

Stool-Based Tests:
Fecal Occult Blood Test every year
Fecal Immunochemical Test every year
FIT-DNA every 1 or 3 years

Direct Visualization Tests:
Colonoscopy every 10 years
CT Colonography every 5 years
Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
Flex Sig (every 10 yrs) & FIT (every year)

Your doctor may recommend more frequent or earlier screenings based on your risk factors and family history. Talk to your doctor about when to start screening for colon cancer. For more information on recommended tests see Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests.

Test your colorectal cancer knowledge: Take the Colorectal Cancer Quiz.

Yours in health,
Dr. Howard Epstein
Chief Medical Officer, PreferredOne

This information is provided by MayoClinic, the American Cancer Society and the CDC.

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