Colon Cancer Screening and Prevention

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Sandra Turns 50 and Gets Screened for Colon Cancer
Meet Sandra, who just turned 50. Sandra was surprised when her doctor recommended
that she get screened for colon cancer. She feels fine, so why should she get tested?

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but it doesn’t have to be. This is one cancer that is highly curable and often preventable with regular screening and early detection.

Who Gets Colon Cancer?

  • Both men and women, and people of all races and ethnicities, are at risk for developing colon cancer.
  • Most colon cancers occur in people age 50 and older, but younger people can also get this disease.

How Does Colon Cancer Develop?

  • Most colon cancers start with a small non-cancerous growth in the colon or rectum, called a polyp. Over time, some polyps can grow and turn into cancer.

Will I Know if I Have Colon Cancer?

  • Early colon cancers and pre-cancerous polyps often don’t cause any symptoms. This is why getting screened BEFORE you have symptoms is so important.
  • Screening helps to detect early colon cancer when it’s highly curable. Screening can also help to prevent colon cancer by finding and removing potentially pre-cancerous polyps before they turn into cancer.

When Should I Get Screened for Colon Cancer?

  • Men and women at average risk for colon cancer should start screening at age 50.
  • Men and women who have certain risk factors, such as a family history of colon polyps or cancer, need to talk with their doctor about starting screening at a younger age.

How Do I Get Screened for Colon Cancer?

  • Men and women at average risk for colon cancer need to begin screening at age 50.
  • The American Cancer Society recommends getting screened with 1 of 7 available tests. See more information on these screening tests here.
  • The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene recommends colonoscopy as the preferred screening test in New York City.

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