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Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Colorectal Cancer

Talking With Your Healthcare Provider About Colorectal Cancer | ASCRS

Screening tests for colorectal cancer can save 30,000 lives each year. These tests not only detect colorectal cancer early, but can prevent colorectal cancer. In one test, non-cancerous polyps are removed before they become cancer. When you turn 45* years old, or if you are younger and have a family or personal history of colorectal polyps, colorectal cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, or breast, uterine or endometrial cancer, you need to talk to your health care provider about colorectal cancer screening tests. Here are some questions to help you begin this important conversation.

  1. I just turned 45* years old. Should I be tested for colorectal cancer?
  2. I don’t have any family history of colorectal cancer or of colorectal polyps. Should I still be screened?
  3. Or….. My medical history and/or family medical history put me at an increased risk for colorectal cancer; should I be screened at a younger age and more often?
  4. I understand there are a number of screening tests available, would you tell me about each of these tests and the pros and cons of each?
  5. I don’t know which screening test is appropriate for me now. Which test do you recommend and why?
  6. Will you perform the test? If not, who will?
  7. Will I be awake or asleep during the test?
  8. Will the test hurt?
  9. Can you please explain the risks of the test you are going to perform?
  10. How will I learn the results of the test?
  11. What kind of follow-up care will I need if the tests show a problem?
  12. If the tests show nothing wrong, when should I be tested again?
  13. What is the cost of these tests? Will my insurance cover the cost?

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, founded by the Cancer Research Foundation of America.

Talk with your heath care provider about colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer is preventable, and is easy to treat and often curable when detected early.
Ask your health care provider what kind of screening test you should have and when.

*In 2018, secondary to new data on the increased risks of colon cancer in those under 50, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgery changed recommendations to consider starting screening at age 45. 


Colon and rectal surgeons are experts in the surgical and non-surgical treatment of diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. They have completed advanced surgical training in the treatment of these diseases as well as full general surgical training. Board-certified colon and rectal surgeons complete residencies in general surgery and colon and rectal surgery, and pass intensive examinations conducted by the American Board of Surgery and the American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery. They are well-versed in the treatment of both benign and malignant diseases of the colon, rectum and anus and are able to perform routine screening examinations and surgically treat conditions if indicated to do so.


The American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons is dedicated to ensuring high-quality patient care by advancing the science, prevention and management of disorders and diseases of the colon, rectum and anus. These brochures are inclusive but not prescriptive. Their purpose is to provide information on diseases and processes, rather than dictate a specific form of treatment. They are intended for the use of all practitioners, health care workers and patients who desire information about the management of the conditions addressed. It should be recognized that these brochures should not be deemed inclusive of all proper methods of care or exclusive of methods of care reasonably directed to obtain the same results. The ultimate judgment regarding the propriety of any specific procedure must be made by the physician in light of all the circumstances presented by the individual patient.