Screening Saves Lives: March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month


What should you know about colon cancer and screening?

Did you know the recommended age to start regular colon cancer screenings was reduced by 5 years?

Regular cancer screenings can help catch cancer early, which means these tests can literally save lives. Read on to learn when you should get one, what to expect at the doctor’s office, and how your Care Coordination team can help.

What is a screening test?

A screening test is used to look for a disease when a person doesn’t have symptoms, as opposed to a diagnostic test, which is performed after symptoms.

Screening tests can find colon or rectal cancer earlier, when it’s easier to treat. In some cases, screening finds growths called polyps that can be removed before they become cancer.

Though people often think of a colonoscopy when they think of colon cancer screening, there are other options. Beyond direct visualization tests such as colonoscopies, tests that can identify signs of cancer based on stool samples are also recommended. The stool-based tests are noninvasive and can be done at home, but must be done more frequently. According to the American Cancer Society, the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose.

Colorectal Cancer Diagram-01-01

What is colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer starts in the colon or the rectum. These cancers can also be called colon cancer or rectal cancer, depending on where they start. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are often grouped together because they have many features in common.

When should I get screened for colorectal cancer?

It is recommended that adults aged 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Previous recommendations began at age 50.

Why was the recommended age to begin colon cancer screening reduced 5 years?

A study led by American Cancer Society researchers found that new cases of colon cancer and rectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among young and middle-aged adults in the US.

In order to combat this, the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) now recommends regular screening beginning at the age of 45. As Dr. Alex Krist, who chaired the USPSTF, put it: The risk of getting colon cancer for a 45-year-old today is the same as for a 50-year-old in the past.

For example, Chadwick Boseman, the actor who starred in “Black Panther” and other films, died of colon cancer in 2020 at the age of 43. Although cases like Chadwick Boseman’s are rare, and are often due to specific risk factors, people at average risk should begin getting screened at 45.

Our team is here to help you.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Office

If you’re due for a colorectal cancer screening, your Customer Experience Advocates team will help you through the process!