What is Colorectal Cancer?
If you are age 50 to 75, get tested regularly for colorectal (“koh-loh-REK-tuhl”) cancer via a Colorectal Cancer Screening. All it takes is a visit to the doctor to have a special exam (called a screening).
You may need to get tested before age 50 if colorectal cancer runs in your family. Talk with your doctor and ask about your risk for colorectal cancer.
How often should I get screened?
How often you get screened will depend on your risk for colorectal cancer. It will also depend on which screening test is used.
There are different ways to test for colorectal cancer. Some tests are done every 1 to 2 years. Other tests are done every 5 to 10 years. Your doctor can help you decide which test is right for you and how often to get screened.
Most people can stop getting screened after age 75. Talk with your doctor about what’s right for you.
What happens during the Colorectal Cancer Screening test?
There are different kinds of tests used to screen for colorectal cancer. Some tests you can do at home, such as a fecal occult blood test. Other tests, such as a colonoscopy, must be done in a clinic or hospital.
You may need to drink only clear liquids (like water or plain tea) the day before your test and use laxatives to clean out your colon. Your doctor will tell you how to get ready for your test. Learn more about colorectal cancer screening tests.
Does it hurt to get tested?
Some people find the Colorectal Cancer Screening to be uncomfortable. Most people agree that the benefits to their health outweigh the discomfort. Read real people’s stories about colorectal cancer screening.
What is colorectal cancer?
Like other types of cancer, colorectal cancer can spread to other parts of your body.
The colon is the longest part of the large intestine. The rectum is the bottom part of the large intestine.
To learn more about colorectal cancer, visit these websites:
Am I at risk for colorectal cancer?
People over age 50 are at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer. Other risk factors are:
- Polyps (growths) inside the colon
- A family history of colorectal cancer
- Not getting enough physical activity
- Drinking too much alcohol
- Health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, which cause chronic inflammation (ongoing irritation) of the intestines
Use this calculator to find out your risk of colorectal cancer.
Take control – act early.
Print these questions to ask your doctor about colorectal cancer screening. Take them to your next checkup.
What about cost?
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law passed in 2010, most insurance plans must cover screening for colorectal cancer.
- If you have Medicare, find out about Medicare coverage for different colorectal cancer tests.
- If you don’t have insurance, you can still get important screening tests. To learn more, find a health center near you.
To learn more about other services covered by the Affordable Care Act, visit HealthCare.gov.
If you are nervous about getting a colorectal cancer test, get support.
- Ask a family member or friend to go with you.
People who smoke are more likely to get colorectal cancer. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today.
Watch your weight.
Being overweight increases your chance of developing colon cancer. Find out how to control your weight.
Regular exercise may help reduce your risk of colorectal cancer. Take these steps to get moving today.
Drink alcohol only in moderation.
Drinking too much alcohol may increase your risk of colorectal cancer. If you choose to drink, have only a moderate (limited) amount. This means:
- No more than 1 drink a day for women
- No more than 2 drinks a day for men
Eating healthy foods that are low in certain kinds of fat – and high in calcium and fiber – may help prevent colorectal cancer.
- You can get calcium from foods like yogurt, cheese, and spinach. Use this calcium shopping list to find good sources of calcium.
- Fiber is in foods like beans, barley, and nuts. Find out which foods are good sources of fiber.
Talk with your doctor about taking aspirin every day.
Taking an aspirin every day can lower your risk of colorectal cancer, heart attack, and stroke. But it’s not right for everyone. If you are age 50 to 59, ask your doctor if a daily aspirin is right for you.