Importance of Colon Cancer Screening

The goal of early cancer screening is to catch colon cancer when it’s easiest to treat and the chance of survival is higher. The experts and specialists at the Inova Saville Cancer Screening and Prevention Center will assist you in navigating you through your health risk assessment and offer you guidance on cancer prevention. We will create a customized plan based on your risk level to incorporate screenings, education, prevention and overall wellness. We offer the latest technology for our screenings and procedures to make sure you are taken care of on every level.

Do I Need to be Tested for Colon Cancer?

Colon cancer screening is recommended for adults ages 45 to 75. Your specific recommendation may be younger if you have a family history or a genetic predisposition. Colorectal cancer screening can find precancerous polyps, so they can be removed. When found early, colorectal cancer is highly treatable, although in its early stages, colorectal cancer usually presents no symptoms. Symptoms tend to appear as the cancer progresses, which is why early screening is vital.

What if I am high-risk or have a family history?

Get First Colonoscopy at 45 (not 50), Say Experts

In 2021, based on evidence that younger people are being diagnosed with colon cancer and would benefit from screening, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) moved the recommended age for colon cancer screening from 50 to age 45. Read about the new guidelines

Screening: What to Expect

Your provider will generally start by taking a complete health history and performing a physical exam. If you’re experiencing symptoms, our colon experts can perform seamless care throughout your screening and testing. These tests may include:

  • Colonoscopy – a minimally invasive visual examination of the bowel using a fiber optic camera
  • Fecal tests, for example:
    • Fit
    • Fit- DNA
    • gFOBT
  • Sigmoidoscopy – a minimally invasive visual examination of the bowel using a fiber optic camera
  • Virtual colonoscopy – a special X-ray examination of the colon using low-dose CT technology

FAQ - Colon Cancer Screening

How often you screen, and the type of screening you choose, depends on your personal and family history. Certain tests are not recommended if you have a personal or family history of colon cancer or polyps. Providers can only remove polyps through a colonoscopy or sigmoidoscopy, which is the best way to prevent cancer.

You may be considered high risk if the following risk factors apply to you or if you have certain inherited conditions:

  • Lynch syndrome
  • Hereditary colorectal cancer syndromes
  • A personal or family history of colorectal cancer or precancerous (adenomatous) colon polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s, ulcerative colitis)
  • Radiation therapy to abdomen or pelvic region
  • Cystic fibrosis

If you experience any of these symptoms, call to schedule an appointment at 571-472-4724:

  • A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
  • Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
  • Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain
  • A feeling that your bowel doesn't empty completely
  • Weakness or fatigue

Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in men and the second most common cancer diagnosed in women. Recommendations on when to get screened have recently changed: both men and women should now be screened for colon cancer starting at age 45.

There are things you can do to decrease colon cancer risk. They include:

  • Eating a healthy diet (limiting red and processed meat, for example)
  • Knowing your family history
  • Having genetic testing, if indicated
  • Getting screened as directed by your provider
  • Exercising regularly
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Not smoking
  • Limiting consumption of alcohol