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Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colonoscopy
During a colonoscopy, the doctor examines inside the rectum and entire colon using a long, lighted tube called a colonoscope. The doctor removes any polyps that may be found.
 
Barium Enema
In a screening test referred to as a barium enema, the patient is given an enema that contains a barium solution, and air is pumped into the rectum. A series of x-rays are then taken. The barium and air outline the colon and rectum on the x-rays. Polyps may be visible as a result.
 

How Often Should Colorectal Cancer Screening Occur?

To find polyps or early colorectal cancer:
 
  • People in their 50s and older should be screened
 
  • People who are at a higher-than-average risk of colorectal cancer should talk with their doctor about whether to have screening tests before age 50, what tests to have, the benefits and risks of each test, and how often to schedule appointments.
     
Several scientific organizations recommend regular screening test intervals as follows:
 
  • Fecal occult blood test every year
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.
     

Final Thoughts

Screening for colorectal cancer is an important part of any person's healthcare. Starting at the age of 50, people should begin getting tested for the disease. For those with risk factors for colorectal cancer, screening should begin even earlier.
 
No matter how old you are, you should ask for medical advice about when to begin screening and how often -- especially if you have risk factors for the disease.
 
For more information on colon or rectal cancer, visit the following sections of the eMedTV library:
 
 
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Information on Colorectal Cancer

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