Ask Healthcare Provider about Colorectal Cancer

Questions to Ask your Healthcare Provider

Screening tests to detect colorectal cancer can save over 30,000 lives each year!  These tests not only detect colorectal cancer early, but can help prevent the disease by removal of non-cancerous polyps before they become cancer.  When you turn 45* years old, you need to talk to your health care provider about having a colorectal cancer screening test.  If you are at increased risk for developing colorectal cancer, (such as those with a family or personal history of colon polyp, inflammatory bowel disease, or colorectal, breast, uterine or endometrial cancer) you may need to begin screening at an earlier age.    Remember, colorectal cancer is preventable and can be treated and even cured if caught early.

Here are some questions to help you begin this important conversation:

  1. I’m going to be 45* years old soon. Should I be tested for colorectal cancer?
  2. I don’t have any family history of colorectal cancer or of colorectal polyps. Should I still be screened?
  3. I think my medical history and/or family medical history put me at an increased risk for colorectal cancer; should I be screened at a younger age and more often?
  4. I understand there are a number of screening tests available, would you tell me about each of these tests and the pros and cons of each?
  5. I don’t know which screening test is appropriate for me now. Which test do you recommend and why?
  6. How will I learn the results of the test? What does it mean if I have benign polyps?
  7. What kind of follow-up care will I need if the tests show a problem?
  8. If the tests show nothing wrong, when should I be tested again?

*In 2018, secondary to new data on the increased risks of colon cancer in those under 50, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery changed recommendations to consider starting screening at age 45.