Renown providers with patient during imaging procedure

Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal Cancer Screening & Prevention

Colorectal cancer is the second-deadliest cancer in the United States, partly because it often goes undiagnosed. Polyps can develop in the colon or rectum and become malignant without presenting any symptoms. Therefore, knowing and addressing your risk factors and undergoing the recommended screenings is crucial. Colorectal cancer affects both men and women. Even if you have no personal or family history of colon cancer, ask your doctor about colorectal risk factors and when to start screening. With regular screening, colorectal cancer is easily detectable and treatable.


Non-Controllable Risk Factors

  • People over the age of 45 are most at risk.
  • Colorectal cancer is more common in African Americans and Jews of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) descent. Therefore, people of these ethnicities should be screened by age 45.
  • Colorectal cancer is more common in patients who have already been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, polyps, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis or long-term inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
  • The likelihood of developing colorectal cancer is higher in people with a family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps. Discuss screening with your doctor. You may require earlier and more frequent screening.
  • Lynch syndrome is a genetic condition that increases the risk of digestive tract cancers, gynecologic tract, and other organs. In addition, people who have Lynch syndrome have a significantly increased risk of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Rare genetic conditions like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) also increase a person's risk of colorectal cancer.

Controllable Risk Factors

  • Overweight people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer.
  • Diets high in red meats and processed meats lead to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, while diets high in fruits and vegetables can lower the risk of colorectal cancer.
  • Exercise might help lower the risk for colorectal cancer.
  • Smokers are more likely to develop colorectal cancer than non-smokers.
  • Men who have more than two alcoholic drinks per day and women who have more than one alcoholic drink per day increase their chances of developing colorectal cancer.
  • Renown Health recommends a formal colorectal cancer risk assessment if you are 50 or older or meet other risk factors.



The most common form of colorectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy. A doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube into the rectum to examine the length of the colon in its entirety. Fitted with a light and a camera enables the doctor to see any concerning or problem areas and remove polyps.

For your doctor to see the colon lining and correctly identify polyps or other lesions, the colon must be empty. Next, your doctor will give you instructions on preparing for the procedure, which usually includes taking a laxative, drinking only clear liquids, and fasting for at least 24 hours before the procedure. Most people consider the preparation more unpleasant than the exam itself, but you must follow the instructions; otherwise, the colonoscopy might need to be rescheduled.

Before performing the exam, your doctor will give you a sedative that helps you relax and fall asleep. Afterward, your doctor will meet with you to discuss their findings.

Experts recommend colonoscopies are performed every ten years starting at age 50. After that, depending on the results, your doctor may schedule more frequent screenings. If you are 76 or older, talk with your doctor. They will take into account your overall health and prior screening history before scheduling a colonoscopy.

FIT Test

The FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) Test is a simple, at-home colorectal cancer screening kit that you can complete in the privacy of your own home. FIT Tests are pain-free, require no dietary or medication restrictions, and are completed in about 10 minutes. Completion involves:

  • Collecting a stool sample.
  • Placing it on a test card or tube.
  • Returning it to the doctor's office.

Your insurance may cover FIT Tests. Please talk with your insurance provider to see if the FIT Test is covered.

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