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Screening for colon cancer; Colonoscopy - screening; Sigmoidoscopy - screening; Virtual colonoscopy - screening
Colon cancer screening can detect polyps and early cancers. Such screening can find abnormalities that can be treated before cancer develops or spreads. Regular screenings may decrease deaths and prevent pain caused by colorectal cancer.
TOOLS OR TESTS
Several tools may be used, either alone or together, to screen for colon cancer:
The first method is a stool test that checks your bowel movements for blood.
The second method is a sigmoidoscopy exam.
The third method is a colonoscopy. A colonoscopy is similar to a sigmoidoscopy, but the entire colon can be viewed. You will usually be mildly sedated during a colonoscopy.
Two other methods may be used:
A test called capsule endoscopy (swallowing a small, pill-sized camera) is also being studied, but it is not recommended for standard screening at this time.
SCREENING FOR AVERAGE-RISK PEOPLE
There is not enough evidence to state which screening method is best. Discuss with your doctor which test is most appropriate for you.
Beginning at age 50, both men and women should have a screening test. Some health care providers recommend that African Americans begin screening at age 45.
Screening options for patients with an average risk for colon cancer:
SCREENING FOR HIGHER-RISK PEOPLE
People with certain risk factors for colon cancer may need earlier (before age 50) or more frequent testing.
More common risk factors are:
Screening for these groups of people is more likely to be done using colonoscopy.
See also: Colon cancer
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