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Symptom Checker

Step 4: Read and complete the decision guide to learn more about your symptoms.

Colon Cancer Screening

Congratulations for taking an important step toward staying healthy!

Who Needs Screening?

Colon cancer doesn't develop overnight. It takes years to decades for normal cells that line the lower intestine to transform into cancer. Before the emergence of full-blown cancer, these cells must first evolve into growths called polyps. Screening for colon cancer works by detecting and removing these polyps before they become deadly.

Any person can get colon cancer. In fact, one in 20 people will develop colon cancer during their lifetime. Your biggest risk for colon cancer is simply getting older, since the disease becomes more common with each decade after age 50. That's why the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society recommend colon cancer screening for all adults over 50.

Options for Getting Screened

There are several different ways to get screened for colon cancer. You may be aware of some of these tests, but many people don't realize that they can choose between different options. While experts think that some of these screening tests may be better than others, any test to screen for colon cancer is better than no test at all. Getting regular screening may lower your risk of colon cancer by more than half.

Many people need help deciding which screening test makes the most sense for them. Other people maybe confused about how often they need to have follow-up screening. This tool is designed to help you answer some of these important questions. However, keep in mind that this tool cannot substitute for the important conversations that you have with your health care provider. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to speak directly with your doctor.

A Decision Guide That Helps You Choose

This guide works by asking you to answer a series of questions related to your medical history, your preferences about your health care, and your information needs. None of this information is stored, saved, or transferred to anyone else. Once you leave this guide, all answers are discarded and cannot be retrieved.

Let's get started. Some people think they need a screening test when they develop symptoms. Not so. Screening tests are advised for people without any symptoms related to the health condition under consideration. Certain symptoms related to the colon and rectum may require urgent evaluation.

Have you had any of the following symptoms

  • blood in the stool (bowel movement), in the toilet bowl or on the toilet paper

  • abdominal pain

  • unexplained weight loss

  • a change in your bowel habits such as new constipation or diarrhea

  • unexplained anemia or iron deficiency?

Yes, I have one or more of these symptoms.

No, I do not have any symptoms.

Disclaimer: This content should not be considered complete and should not be used in place of a call or visit to a health professional. Use of this content is subject to specific Terms of Use & Medical Disclaimers.