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Colorectal cancer occurs in the colon or rectum. That's the lower part of your digestive system. It often starts with small growths called polyps in the colon or rectum. Polyps are usually found with screening tests. Depending on the type of test, any polyps found may be removed during the tests.
Colorectal cancer usually does not cause symptoms at first. But regular tests can help find it early, before it spreads and becomes harder to treat.
Your risk for colorectal cancer gets higher as you get older. Experts say that adults should start regular screening at age 50 and stop at age 74. If you are at higher risk, your doctor may recommend you start screening before age 50 or continue after age 74. Talk with your doctor about your risk and when to start and stop screening. You may have one of several tests.
Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.
The following guidelines are for adults who are not at high risk for colorectal cancer. You may have at least one of these tests as directed by your doctor.
If you are age 75 or older, you can work with your doctor to decide if screening is a good option.
Talk with your doctor about when you need to be tested. And discuss which tests are right for you.
Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you:
Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if you have:
Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd
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Adaptation Date: 10/28/2019
Adapted By: Alberta Health Services
Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services
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