February 15, 2022

Do I really need a colorectal cancer screening?

The answer is yes if you’re 45 or older, and earlier screening may be recommended based on your risk factors.

Keeping up with regular screenings is one of the best ways to stop colorectal cancer, the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. When caught early, colorectal cancer can be cured in 9 out of 10 cases. Screening can also prevent cancer by helping doctors find and remove polyps — small clumps of cells on the lining of the colon — before they become cancerous.

For Medicare Health Plans, Kaiser Permanente's colorectal screening rate is 84%,  the national average is 74%.

Stopping cancer, saving lives. Kaiser Permanente is a leader in colorectal cancer prevention. Our Medicare screening rates exceed the national average by 10%. For Medicare Health Plans, Kaiser Permanente averages 84%, the national average is 74%. Source: 2021 Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS)

Kaiser Permanente is proud of its consistently high colorectal cancer screening rates. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, many people have delayed life-saving preventive screenings.

The good news is that one type of screening for colorectal cancer — called a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT — can be done in the comfort and privacy of your home. The noninvasive test checks for hidden blood in your stool, which could be a sign of colorectal cancer or of benign colorectal polyps. If your FIT test is positive, your doctor will perform a colonoscopy to examine the inner lining of your colon and rectum.

Colorectal cancer screening is generally recommended for people with average risk when they are between the ages of 45 and 75. Earlier screening may be recommended for people with a family history of colorectal cancer or for people with certain health conditions or hereditary syndromes.

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