What’s the right colorectal cancer screening option for you?

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

By Deb Balzer

Colorectal cancer is a cancer of the lower digestive system, which includes the colon and the rectum. The fourth most common cancer in the U.S., diagnosis rates have been dropping for older adults while increasing for adults younger than 50. Screening can help prevent colorectal cancer by catching colorectal polyps before they develop into cancer. 

Did you know there's more than one option for colorectal cancer screening? That's only if you don't have bowel issues and are of average risk.

Watch this "Mayo Clinic Minute" video to hear Johanna Chan, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, explain colorectal cancer screening options:

A colonoscopy allows your doctor to check for polyps and other issues inside the rectum and colon, and, if necessary, remove them.

"A polyp is a small, wart-like growth that initially may even be asymptomatic," says Dr. Chan.

Over time, those polyps may form into cancer.

"If we're able to detect the colon polyps at a small and early stage, and resect them completely, we can actually prevent colon cancer from developing in the first place."

Bowel prep for a colonoscopy can be difficult for some. Other tests may be a better option.

"And for some patients who might otherwise not undergo any screening, there certainly are alternatives, including noninvasive stool testing, certain imaging modalities, like CT-based testing."

The most important colorectal cancer screening is the one that you do.

"Speak with your own provider and your own physician with an appropriate family history, symptom history, and have your team help you pick the right screening modality."

Learn more

Learn more about colon and rectal cancer and find a colon or rectal cancer clinical trial at Mayo Clinic.

Join the Colorectal Cancer Support Group on Mayo Clinic Connect.

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A version of this article was originally published on the Mayo Clinic News Network.