Health Library Explorer

March 2023

No Ifs, Ands, or Buts: It’s Time to Get Screened for Colon Cancer

When it comes to colon cancer screening, it’s easy to make excuses. But once you learn the truth about these tests, it’s harder to put them off.


The excuse: If I get screened, I might find out I have cancer. I am afraid.

The truth: Yes, that is a possibility. However, the earlier you find cancer, the easier it is to treat. More than 150,000 Americans get colon or rectal cancer every year. But there are more than 1.4 million survivors. Many are alive because they got a screening test.

Some tests even prevent cancer! During a screening, your health care provider might see a growth that could turn into cancer. It can then be removed before cancer develops.


The excuse:AndI am nervous about what happens before and during the test.

The truth: There are a few different tests for colon cancer. For some, you will have to prepare the day before. This may mean following a liquid diet and taking laxatives to clean out your system. Still, the test can be as quick as 10 minutes. At most, it might last an hour. None of the tests are painful. If your test is clear, you may not need another one for five or 10 years.


The excuse: But I’m healthy. I am not at risk for colon cancer.

The truth: It’s true that certain people have a greater chance of getting the disease, like those who have a family member with colon cancer. Still, anyone can get colon cancer. Recently, there has been a significant increase in colorectal cancer among those younger than age 50. Nine out of 10 people whose cancer is found early are alive five years later.

In the end, there is no excuse not to protect your health. Talk with your provider to determine the screening schedule that works best for you.

Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2022
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