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The Importance of Colorectal Cancer Screenings

The Basics

If you are age 50 to 75, get tested regularly for colorectal cancer. A special test (called a screening) can help prevent colorectal cancer or find it early, when it’s easier to treat.

You may need to get tested before age 50 or after age 75 if colorectal cancer runs in your family. Talk with your doctor and ask about your risk for colorectal cancer.

Two older people embracing on mountain

How often should I get screened?

How often you need to get screened will depend on:

  • Your risk for colorectal cancer
  • Which screening test you choose

How do I decide which test to take?

There are different ways to test for colorectal cancer. Your doctor can help you decide which test you would prefer.

Before you talk with your doctor about which test to get, it can be helpful to think about your values and preferences. To find out which test you would prefer, answer these questions – then share the results with your doctor.

Together, you and your doctor can make a screening plan that’s right for you.

Am I at risk for colorectal cancer?

The risk of developing colorectal cancer increases as you get older. That’s why screening is recommended for everyone age 50 to 75.

Other risk factors are:

  • Having polyps (growths) inside the colon
  • Having a personal or family history of colorectal cancer
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Having obesity
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Having certain health conditions, such as Crohn’s disease, that cause chronic inflammation (ongoing irritation) of the small intestine and colon

Use this calculator together with your doctor to find out your risk of colorectal cancer.

Take control – act early.

If you start getting screened at age 50, you have a good chance of preventing colorectal cancer or finding it when it can be treated more easily.

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For screening appointments call the Merrimack Valley Endoscopy Center or call 888 227-3762.