Screening recommendations for people age 45 and over
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends that adults age 45 to 75 be screened for colorectal cancer. Your doctor might recommend earlier screening if you’re at higher risk. There are several screening tests available, in two main groups:
- Stool-based tests: These tests check the stool (feces) for signs of cancer. These tests are less invasive and easier to have done, but they need to be done more often.
- Visual exams: These tests look at the structure of the colon and rectum for any abnormal areas. This is done either with a scope (a tube-like instrument with a light and tiny video camera on the end) put into the rectum, or with special imaging (x-ray) tests. The most well known of this type of test is colonoscopy.
Possible warning signs of colorectal cancer
- Blood in stool (bright red or very dark)
- Rectal bleeding
- Change in bowel habits
- Frequent constipation
- Frequent diarrhea
- Feeling that the bowel is not emptying completely
- Stools that are narrower than usual (pencil thin)
- Abdominal discomfort- frequent gas pains, bloating, fullness and/or cramps
- Unexplained weight loss