February 26, 2024

What you need to know about colon cancer screenings

Screening for colorectal cancer is recommended for most people starting at age 45. Learn why it’s important to get tested.

Regular screening can prevent colorectal cancer by helping doctors find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.

Keeping up with regular screenings is one of the best ways to stop colorectal cancer, also called colon cancer.

Colon cancer happens when cells in the colon or rectum grow out of control. It’s the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States for men and women combined.

But when it’s caught early, colon cancer can often be cured.

Being screened can also prevent cancer by finding polyps — small clumps of cells on the lining of the colon. Doctors can then remove polyps before they become cancerous.

At-home colon cancer screening test

One type of screening for colon cancer is easy to do in the comfort and privacy of your home. A fecal immunochemical test, or FIT, checks for hidden blood in your stool, which could be a sign of colon cancer or colon polyps.

If your FIT results are positive, your doctor will recommend a colonoscopy to check the inner lining of your colon and rectum for cancer.

Colon cancer screening guidelines

Most people should start screening for colon cancer at age 45 and continue until age 75.

If you’re at higher risk, you may need to start screening at an earlier age. You may be at higher risk if you have a family history of colon cancer or certain other health conditions.

Talk with your doctor about your risks, when to start screening, and what type of cancer screening is best for you.

Colorectal cancer screening saves lives

When colorectal cancer is caught early, it can often be cured. Our screening rates are among the nation’s best.  

Medicare health plans Kaiser Permanente 87% National average  69% Commercial health plans Kaiser Permanente  68% National average  57% Source: 2023 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®)

Source: 2023 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS®)