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Harvard Commentaries
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Harvard Commentaries
Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School


Is It Time To Get Screened?


September 09, 2011

Digestive-Tract Cancer
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Is It Time To Get Screened?
Is It Time To Get Screened?
htmColorectalTimeGetScreened
Find out if you are due for a colorectal cancer screening test.
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InteliHealth
2011-09-09
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InteliHealth Medical Content
2014-09-09

Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Is It Time To Get Screened?

Screening greatly reduces the risk of getting or dying from colorectal cancer. However, many people at risk still don't get screened. Are you missing out on a simple test that will save your life?

If You Are Age 50 Or Older, Click Here
If You Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Click Here
If A Close Member Of Your Family Ever Had Colorectal Cancer, Click Here
If You Been Diagnosed With A Polyp, Click Here
If You Had Colorectal Cancer Before, Click Here

If You Are Age 50 Or Older

It's time to get screened. Men and women 50 years of age and older should undergo regular screening for colorectal cancer. Several testing options are available, and deciding which test to choose can be confusing. Don't let this stop you.

Click here to read about testing options.

Click here for tips for getting screened.

If You Have Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory bowel diseases include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. If you have one of these conditions, expect to undergo screening eight to 10 years after your illness was first discovered and every one to two years thereafter. Because you have a higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer, your doctor probably will recommend colonoscopy as the screening test of choice.

If A Close Member Of Your Family Ever Had Colorectal Cancer

You may need to be screened at a younger age or more often than most people. For example, if your mother, father, brother or sister was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, you are at increased risk. In such a case, screening should start at age 40. You may need to be screened even younger or at more regular intervals, depending on the age of the youngest family member who was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Because your risk of colorectal cancer is higher than average, your doctor will probably recommend colonoscopy as the screening test of choice.

If You Have Been Diagnosed With A Polyp

Depending on the type of polyp that was removed, you may need to undergo screening more frequently than most people. A polyp is a growth from the lining of the intestine. In most cases, colorectal cancer develops from precancerous polyps that appear inside of the colon or rectum.

The exact timing of screening tests will depend on the type and size of the polyp. Because your risk of colorectal cancer is higher than average, your doctor will probably recommend colonoscopy as the screening test of choice.

If You Had Colorectal Cancer Before

Expect to undergo colonoscopy three years after cancer surgery. If results are normal, you should undergo testing every five years.

 

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