Colon Cancer: Who Should Be Screened & How Often

Shocking Colon Cancer Statistics You Should Know

Colorectal cancer affects 1 in 24 Americans. What’s more disturbing is that the condition which once affected middle-aged Americans is affecting younger adults. For instance, Americans born in the ’90s are twice as likely to develop colon cancer than those born in the ’50s. While colon cancer is one of the deadliest forms of cancer, doctors can treat the condition with timely screening. But who should get screened and when?

What is colon cancer anyway?

Colon cancer happens when one or more harmful tumors develop in the digestive system. Cancer starts in the large intestine, which absorbs water and minerals from food. The large intestine then moves the remaining material down to the rectum to be released as waste. Colon cancer is classified in different stages from 0-4, with advanced stages being deadly. While colon cancer can affect anyone, some persons are at increased risk.

When you hit this age, get screened ASAP

Colorectal screening should happen from age 45. At this age, screening can occur once every 5-10 years. The timeframe often depends on the type of screening and the risk of developing cancer. For instance, statistics show that African Americans are more at risk for late-stage colon cancer, often due to health disparities. Cancer screening should happen every 5-10 years up to age 75. At that point, screenings may no longer be necessary.

Genetics play a factor

There are some instances where screening should happen before age 45. Genetics plays a crucial role in colon cancer. If there is a family history of colorectal cancer, polyps, familial adenomatous polyposis, or Lynch syndrome, early screening may help. There is no set guideline of the frequency of testing, so follow the advice of a doctor.

These conditions mean an increased risk of cancer

Some digestive conditions increase the risk of colon cancer. If there is a personal risk or family history of digestive diseases, screening via colonoscopy can help. These conditions include inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), like ulcerative colitis and Chron’s disease. Anyone with IBD, getting treatment for IBD, or with a family history of IBD should get screened earlier.

Look for these symptoms

Colon cancer can present no symptoms. However, advanced cases can show signs that often go ignored. Common symptoms include blood in the stool, chronic irregular bowel movements, chronic gas, and bloating. Other symptoms include fatigue, chronic constipation, and anemia. While these symptoms can mean other conditions, a combination of signs should signal a visit to the doctor.

Take colon cancer seriously

Colon cancer is dangerous if undetected, so screening should start from age 45 for all persons. If there is an increased risk of cancer, screening should happen earlier and more often. Speak with a doctor about any concerns and set up colon cancer screening today.


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