Do you need to be screened for colorectal cancer?

Screening for colorectal cancer is lifesaving. Because polyps associated with colorectal cancer tend to grow slowly, screenings allow doctors to find them and remove them, often long before they become cancerous. As with all kinds of cancer, getting an early diagnosis of colorectal cancer makes treatments easier and more effective. Is screening right for you? Here are some of the factors your physician will consider when making the right choice for you about colorectal cancer screenings.

How old are you?
The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age. Most people over age 50 can benefit from periodic screening tests. How often you should be screened after 50 depends on a number of different factors, including the type of screening you had and the results of those tests.

The typical schedule for testing is every 10 years if you have a colonoscopy , and every five years if you have another kind of screening, such as CT colonography, flexible sigmoidoscopy or double-contrast barium enema.

Do you have a family history of colorectal cancer?
If you have a first-degree relative—a parent, sibling, or child—who has had colorectal cancer, then you have a heightened risk of the disease. In this case, your physician may recommend that you start colorectal cancer screenings before age 50 and that you have them more often.

Your risk of colorectal cancer can be further heightened if your relative was diagnosed before he or she turned 45 or if you have more than one relative with the disease. These factors will also influence screening recommendations made by your physician.

Have you had colon polyps?
If you have had a previous screening during which colon polyps were discovered, then you may need to have additional screenings more frequently. The number of polyps that were discovered and whether they were removed in pieces will impact when you need further screening tests.

The Cancer Center at Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center offers comprehensive cancer diagnostic testing and treatments in Thousand Oaks with a multidisciplinary team of healthcare providers. Get more information about our cancer team by calling (877) 888-5746.

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