Colon cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer in the United States. However, it’s also one of the most treatable cancers. When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage, the 5-year relative survival rate is approximately 90 percent. In fact, regular screenings can help detect advanced polyps, which are precancerous, and allow us to remove them using techniques that do not require surgery. This returns your colon-cancer risk back to baseline.
Kaiser Permanente, in line with the United States Preventive Services Task Force, encourages those age 50 and older to undergo screening with one of the following options:
People with a higher risk for colorectal cancer, such as those with a strong family history of colorectal cancer, may need to start routine testing before age 50 and get tested more often.
To figure out which screening test is best for you, have a conversation with your primary care provider. Each test has its advantages and disadvantages, but one thing is certain: Regular colorectal cancer screenings can save lives.
To a large extent, YES! Most cases of colorectal cancer are due to sporadic development of precancerous polyps that do not cause symptoms for a long period of time. This is why screening is critical — the earlier we detect and remove these polyps, the less likely they can grow into an advanced polyp and ultimately turn into cancer. Multiple studies have shown that precancerous colon polyp removal is protective against subsequent development of colon cancer.
Some of the known risk factors for developing colon cancer include:
To learn more about colorectal cancer and the screening process, please visit KP.org.