Colon Cancer Screening (FIT kit information)
Colon Cancer Screening
Most adults should be screened (tested) for colon cancer starting at the age of 45. Colon cancer is a type of cancer that alters the tissue of the colon and/or rectum. It often starts as a small growth or lump(s) called a polyp. Polyps can become cancer. When found early, they can often be taken out before they become cancer. Some people have a higher risk (chance) compared to those with normal risk for colon cancer. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) at the bottom of this page to find out if you fall into that group.
Screening for Colon Cancer
Colon cancer screenings (tests) can find cancer before you feel any symptoms. A Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) should be done each year to look for this type of cancer. FIT, is an easy test to do that looks at a sample of stool (poop) for signs of hidden blood. A FIT test is done by collecting a sample of your stool at home and then bringing the sample back to your clinic lab, in-person or by mail.
Watch this video (English or Español) to learn how to do your FIT test at home
How to Ask for a FIT Test
How can I prevent colon cancer?
- Eat a healthy diet
- Do regular physical activity
- Lower the use of alcohol
- Stop smoking cigarettes
- Complete your FIT every year (or other screening tests recommended by your primary care provider)
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
The colon is a part of the digestive system. It is a tube-like organ joined to the small intestine at one end and the anus at the other. The colon takes out water, nutrients and other substances from food that is not fully digested. The left over material is solid waste known as stool (poop). Stool moves through the colon to the rectum and leaves the body through the anus.
Cancer is a word for diseases caused by growth of cells that are not normal in the body. Colon cancer cells multiple in the colon and take over normal tissue. If not detected early, colon cancer can spread to other parts of the body.
- Getting older
- Having a parent, brother, sister or child with colon cancer.
- Own history of colon cancer
- Alcohol use. Drinking 3 or more drinks per day will increase the risk of colon cancer.
- Smoking cigarettes
- Race – Black people have a higher risk of colon cancer and death from colon cancer
People with any of these colon cancer risk factors below may need screening that are different, done at an earlier age, and done more often compared to people with normal risk:
- Family history of colon cancer or polyps (small growth or lumps)
- Family history of a genetic colon cancer syndrome (disorder) like familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary (genetic) non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)
- Own history of colon cancer
- Own history of chronic inflammatory bowel (swelling of gut) disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn disease)
Talk to your primary care provider (PCP) if you have one or more of the above risk factors.
Definition from the National Cancer Institute