The most common form of colorectal cancer screening is a colonoscopy
. A doctor will insert a thin, flexible tube into the rectum to examine the length of the colon in its entirety. Fitted with a light and a camera enables the doctor to see any concerning or problem areas and remove polyps.
For your doctor to see the colon lining and correctly identify polyps or other lesions, the colon must be empty. Next, your doctor will give you instructions on preparing for the procedure, which usually includes taking a laxative, drinking only clear liquids, and fasting for at least 24 hours before the procedure. Most people consider the preparation more unpleasant than the exam itself, but you must follow the instructions; otherwise, the colonoscopy might need to be rescheduled.
Before performing the exam, your doctor will give you a sedative that helps you relax and fall asleep. Afterward, your doctor will meet with you to discuss their findings.
Experts recommend colonoscopies are performed every ten years starting at age 50. After that, depending on the results, your doctor may schedule more frequent screenings. If you are 76 or older, talk with your doctor. They will take into account your overall health and prior screening history before scheduling a colonoscopy.
The FIT (Fecal Immunochemical Test) Test is a simple, at-home colorectal cancer screening kit that you can complete in the privacy of your own home. FIT Tests are pain-free, require no dietary or medication restrictions, and are completed in about 10 minutes. Completion involves:
- Collecting a stool sample.
- Placing it on a test card or tube.
- Returning it to the doctor's office.
Your insurance may cover FIT Tests. Please talk with your insurance provider to see if the FIT Test is covered.