Regular screenings can often find colon cancer early, when it’s small, has not spread, and is easier to treat. In many people, screening can prevent colon cancer altogether. This is because some polyps, or growths, can be found and removed before they have the chance to turn into cancer. Preventing colon cancer, or finding it early, doesn’t have to be expensive, either. Some of the tests are simple, affordable and can be done at home. Tests used to screen for colon cancer include:
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) and the fecal immunochemical test (FIT): Samples of stool are checked for blood, which might be a sign of a polyp or cancer.
- Stool DNA test: A stool sample is checked for certain abnormal sections of DNA (genetic material) from cancer or polyp cells.
- Sigmoidoscopy: A flexible, lighted tube is put into the rectum and lower colon to look for polyps and cancer.
- Colonoscopy: A longer, flexible tube is used to look at the entire colon and rectum.
- Double-contrast barium enema: This is an x-ray test of the colon and rectum.
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy): This is a type of CT scan of the colon and rectum.
(Source: American Cancer Society)
For more information about colon cancer screenings and steps you can take to stay well and prevent colon cancer, visit cancer.org/colon or call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345. (Source: American Cancer Society, 2015.)