Colon cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the colon or rectum, and is the third most common type of cancer in both men and women. It is recommended that adults at average risk for colon cancer begin regular screening at age 45. However, the American Cancer Society (ACS) now recommends that people at average risk should start regular screening at age 45 instead of 50. This is because of a rise in cases of colon cancer in younger adults.
There are several screening tests available for colon cancer, including stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and virtual colonoscopy. The most effective test is the colonoscopy, which allows the doctor to view the entire colon and rectum and remove any polyps or abnormal tissue for testing. Stool tests are also effective, but may need to be repeated more frequently than colonoscopies. Your doctor can help you determine which test is best for you based on your individual circumstances.
Regular screening for colon cancer can help to detect the disease early, when it is most treatable. If you experience any symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, blood in the stool, or abdominal pain, it is important to talk with your doctor right away, regardless of your age or screening history.
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