Doctors recommend certain screening tests for healthy people with no signs or symptoms in order to look for signs of colon cancer or noncancerous colon polyps. Finding colon cancer at its earliest stage provides the greatest chance for a cure. Screening has been shown to reduce your risk of dying of colon cancer.
Doctors generally recommend that people with an average risk of colon cancer begin screening around age 50. But people with an increased risk, such as those with a family history of colon cancer or African-American heritage, should consider screening sooner.
Several screening options exist — each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Talk about your options with your doctor, and together you can decide which tests are appropriate for you.
You can take steps to reduce your risk of colon cancer by making changes in your everyday life. Take steps to:
Some medications have been found to reduce the risk of precancerous polyps or colon cancer. For instance, some evidence links a reduced risk of polyps and colon cancer to regular use of aspirin or aspirin-like drugs. But it’s not clear what dose and what length of time would be needed to reduce the risk of colon cancer. Taking aspirin daily has some risks, including gastrointestinal bleeding and ulcers.
If you’ve been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, your cancer care team will discuss your treatment options with you. It’s important that you think carefully about each of your choices. Weigh the benefits of each treatment option against the possible risks and side effects.
Local treatments: Some treatments are called local therapies. This means they treat the tumor without affecting the rest of the body. These treatments are more likely to be useful for earlier-stage cancers (smaller cancers that haven’t spread), but they might also be used in some other situations.
Systemic treatments: Colorectal cancer can also be treated using drugs, which can be given by mouth or directly into the bloodstream. These are called systemic therapies because they can reach cancer cells throughout the body. Depending on the type of colorectal cancer.
The recommendations on this page are based on literature from the American Society of Clinical Oncology and American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons.