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Screenings are performed to look for a disease when a patient isn’t experiencing any symptoms, like cancer. A colonoscopy is a common screening test for colon cancer. The doctor is able to view the entire colon and rectum, and any associated changes or abnormalities.
Regular screenings are key to preventing colorectal cancer. If any precancerous polyps are found, they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screenings can also identify colorectal cancer in its early stages, and can help in identifying the best course of treatment. Screenings are typically done every 10 years if no abnormalities are found and the patient doesn’t have an increased risk of colon cancer. Traditionally, screening for colon cancer begins at age 50 for both men and women. However the American Center Society has recently recommended starting colon cancer screening at age 45. This is a new recommendation and some insurances may not cover screening colonoscopy until age 50. Any patient with a family history of colon cancer or colon polyps must start screening earlier than age 50 and is urged to discuss this with their physician.