Colon cancer testing can detect precancerous and cancerous changes in individuals, often long before the cancer has progressed enough to cause noticeable symptoms. These changes occur in the form of polyps, or abnormal tissue clusters.
Colon cancer is one of the only cancers for which there is a reliable method of detection in patients before they develop symptoms. As such, Moffitt Cancer Center encourages individuals to take on an active role in their colon health. When colon cancer is diagnosed in its early stages, patients are likely to have more treatment options, often resulting in better outcomes and higher quality of life. When precancerous polyps are discovered, a surgeon can generally remove them before they become cancerous and spread to other parts of the body.
While physicians usually recommend that adults begin regular colon cancer testing once they are over 50 years of age, those who are considered to be at a higher risk of developing colon cancer may benefit from starting routine screenings at a younger age, as well as having screenings conducted more often. These individuals include those who:
- Have been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, familiar adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome
- Have a family history of colon cancer
- Are colon cancer survivors
At Moffitt Cancer Center, we offer several methods of colon cancer testing, including colonoscopies and high-sensitivity blood tests, to detect colon cancer in its earliest stages. In the event that a colon cancer screening test does indicate the presence of a precancerous polyp or a cancerous lesion, the oncologists in our Gastrointestinal Oncology Program will develop an individualized treatment plan that best serves the needs of the patient.