Are you at Risk for Colon Cancer?

Yes, everyone is at risk for colon cancer.

View our Are You at Risk? Brochure

Colon cancer occurs most often in men and women age 50 and older. The risk increases with age, but you do not have to be 50 or older to get the disease.

Screening saves lives. Colon cancer usually starts from polyps in the colon or rectum. Screening finds polyps so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests also find colon cancer early, when it is most treatable. Colon cancer is up to 90% curable when found and treated early.

What is colon cancer?

Cancer that develops in the colon or rectum. The colon is also called the large intestine or large bowel. The rectum connects the colon to the anus.

What are polyps?

Abnormal growths in the colon that sometimes develop into colon cancer.

The facts about colon cancer

  • Colon cancer is the 2nd leading cancer killer in the United States among cancers that affect both men and women.
  • It is estimated that 6 out of 10 (60%) deaths from colon cancer could be prevented if everyone 50 and older were screened.
  • . Your risk for getting colon cancer is about 1 in 20.

Risk Factors

Colon cancer can affect anyone. It is important to know your risk, no matter how old you are. Some people may be at higher risk for the disease than others. You may be at higher risk if:

  • You are age 50 or older
  • You have a personal history of:
  1. Colon cancer
  2. Colon or rectal polyps
  3. Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
  • You have a family history of:
  1. Colon cancer
  2. Colon or rectal polyps
  3. Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP)
  4. Hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer
  5. Other cancers
  • You have symptoms

Talk with your doctor about having earlier or more frequent tests if you think you are at higher risk for colon cancer. Talk with relatives about your family’s health history.


Do not wait for symptoms to occur before getting screened. Early colon cancer often has no symptoms. If there are symptoms, they may include:

  • Rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having a bowel movement
  • A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
  • Cramping or pain in the lower stomach
  • Losing weight and you do not know why
  • Anemia (low blood count)

If you are having any of these symptoms talk with your doctor.

Take Action

Call your doctor today to discuss colon cancer screening. . If you do not have a doctor, contact your local health department.

Several types of screening tests can be used to find polyps and colon cancer. Talk with your doctor about which option is right for you.All men and women age 50-75 should get checked for colon cancer using one these tests:

Stool based screening tests

There are two types of stool based screening tests that check for blood in your stool. They are called FOBT (sensitive fecal occult blood test) and FIT (fecal immunochemical test). These tests should be done once a year. A positive test requires further testing.

Click  here for a one-pager on stool based screening.

Click here for a Q&A with national stool based screening expert Dr. Jim Allison.

Colon tests

These tests include the colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy. These tests allow doctors to check for polyps and cancer. The colonoscopy is the only test that allows the doctor to check inside the entire colon and remove polyps.

Visit or call (800) 841-6399 for more information on screening options.


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