Colorectal Cancer Screening
Cancers of the colon and rectum, often collectively referred to as colorectal cancer, are life-threatening tumors that develop in the large intestine. Like most cancers, early detection is the best defense and can improve outcomes dramatically. Colorectal cancer screenings are designed to detect polyps and colon cancer in its earliest stages, when it’s most treatable. In fact, if everyone aged 50 years or older had regular screening tests, at least 60% of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided.
Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer
At CHI Health Cancer Care, you can be confident that our state-of-the-art screening technology and diagnostic methods provide highly accurate results. In fact, our cancer center is the only one of its kind in the Omaha region to receive a three-year Network Accreditation with Commendation from the American College of Surgeons' Commission on Cancer (CoC).
When Should I Have a Colorectal Cancer Screening?
The lifetime risk of developing colon cancer in the United States is about 7%. Certain factors increase a person’s risk of developing the disease, including:
- Being over the age of 50
- Presence of polyps of the colon
- Personal history of cancer
- Family history of colon cancer
- Cigarette smoking
- Physical inactivity
Colorectal cancer most often develops from pre-cancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum long before symptoms appear; in fact, many patients are free of symptoms until their tumors are quite advanced. For that reason, the American Cancer Society recommends regular colonoscopies for all men and women, age 50 and older, whether or not you have any symptoms.
In addition to getting a regular colonoscopy, it is important to see your primary care physician every year to discuss your risk factors and determine which screening tests you should receive.
Recommended tests for finding both polyps and cancer:
- Colonoscopy—every 10 years: A colonoscopy is the most effective screening technique for finding colorectal cancer, or pre-cancerous polyps, so they can be removed before they turn into cancer. A physician uses a colonoscope (narrow tube fitted with a camera) to view the entire length of the colon.
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy—every five years*: A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to the colonoscopy, but examines only the lower two feet of colon.
- Double-contrast barium enema—every five years*
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy)—every five years*
Tests mainly used to detect cancer:
- Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)—every year*
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)—every year*
- Stool DNA test (sDNA)—how often uncertain*
*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
Talk with your doctor about your personal risk for colorectal cancer, because people who are at a higher risk may need to start testing at an earlier age.
Take Charge of Your Health—Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today
We offer colonoscopies as an outpatient procedure at all six CHI Health metro area hospitals. To schedule your colonoscopy, you may first need a doctor’s referral. Find a skilled primary care physician at CHI Health or call 1-800-253-4368 and we’ll help you find the right doctor.