Colon Cancer Prevention

If you are age 45 or older, talk with your doctor about colon cancer screenings. If you have one or more risk factors for colon cancer, your doctor may want you to have screening exams earlier and more often.

Some people inherit colon cancer, but, in most people, no identifiable cause exists. Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fiber, not smoking, and getting exercise may help prevent colon cancer but, without a known cause, prevention is challenging. This is why screenings are important.



Beginning at age 45, men and women who are at average risk for developing colon cancer should be screened. Health care providers may suggest one or more of the tests listed below for colorectal cancer screening.

Colonoscopy: A lighted instrument called a colonoscope is used to inspect the  rectum and entire colon. Colonoscopy can find precancerous or cancerous growths throughout the colon, including the upper part of the colon, where they would be missed by sigmoidoscopy. A colonoscopy allows a physician to examine the entire large intestine (colon) for abnormalities, such as ulcers or benign polyps. If polyps are found, they will be removed during the procedure, reducing the risk of colon cancer. Having a colonoscopy is painless, as you will receive sedation and are asleep during the procedure.

Double Contrast Barium Enema: X-rays of the colon and rectum are taken after the patient is given an enema with a barium solution and air is introduced into the colon. The barium and air help to outline the colon and rectum on the X-rays.

Fecal Occult Blood Test: This test checks for hidden blood in the stool. Studies have proven that this test, when performed every 1 to 2 years in people age45 to 80, reduces the number of deaths due to colon cancer.

Sigmoidoscopy: A lighted instrument called a sigmoidoscope is used to examine the rectum and lower colon. Sigmoidoscopy can find pre-cancerous or cancerous growths in the rectum and lower colon. Studies suggest that regular screening with sigmoidoscopy after age 45 can reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.

Stool DNA Test: This test checks for colon cancer of all stages and in all locations in the colon.