Colon cancer screening is used to detect precancerous and cancerous changes in people who do not have any symptoms of colon cancer. These tests look for the presence of abnormal tissue clusters (polyps) in the colon.
In most cases, the polyps are precancerous. This means that the tissue is not malignant, but could become cancerous over time. In most cases, a surgeon can remove precancerous polyps before they undergo cancerous changes and spread to other parts of the body.
Sometimes, screening tests can detect cancerous polyps that are so small that they have not yet caused any symptoms. When colon cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stages, patients often have more treatment options and better outcomes.
How Often Should Colon Cancer Screening Be Done?
Physicians typically recommend regular colon cancer screening tests for all adults between the ages of 45 and 75. However, younger individuals might also benefit from routine colon cancer testing if they have been diagnosed with:
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Familiar adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
- Lynch syndrome
Colon cancer survivors and individuals with a family history of colon cancer should also schedule regular screenings, regardless of their age. These individuals might also benefit from more frequent screening tests.
Because colon cancer is one of the only cancers that can be easily and reliably detected in people who do not have symptoms, Moffitt Cancer Center encourages individuals to stay up-to-date with their screenings. If the results of a colon cancer screening test show the presence of a precancerous polyp or cancerous lesion, our expert oncologists can develop an individualized treatment plan.
If you've been diagnosed with colon cancer and would like to learn more about treatment options, call 1-888-663-3488 or submit a new patient registration form online.