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Small & Large Intestine

Colon Cancer Screenings Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer

Our board-certified gastrointestinal (GI) physicians and surgeons at University Hospitals are leaders in screening, diagnosing, managing and treating all types of colon polyps, colon cancer and other gastrointestinal conditions. With a team approach to care, we work closely with patients to provide treatment for immediate needs. We also work together to educate patients on how to reduce the risk of more serious issues such as colon cancer.

Schedule a Colonoscopy

Call 216-307-2003 or schedule your appointment online.

What Are My Colon Screening Options?

Test Options Colonoscopy
UH Recommends
FIT-DNA (Cologuard©) Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)
Identifies colon cancer? IntestinesMost effective MicroscopeTests stool for DNA and traces of blood associated with polyps and colon cancer. MicroscopeTests stool for blood and certain cancer markers.
Prevents colon cancer? YesYes, by removing polyps before they can turn into cancer. NoNo NoNo
Prep required FastingFasting and bowel cleanse with laxatives. FastingSome dietary restrictions No Food RestrictionsNo restrictions
Sedation used SedationYes, light sedation Not SedatedNo Not SedatedNo
Possibility of false positives? NoNo YesYes* YesYes*
Location test performed LocationHospital or surgery/endoscopy center HomeTest kit mailed to your home. Mail back when completed. HomePick up test at UH laboratory location. Mail back when completed.
Insurance coverage Money-HighAll major insurances Money-HighMost major insurances* Money-HighAll major insurances*
Risks Low RiskExtremely safe. Complications are rare, but can occur with polyp removal and anesthesia usage. No RiskNo No RiskNo
Appropriate for 40 Plus

40+ for people with a first degree relative who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer


45+ for people at average risk

45+45+ for people at average risk 45+45+ for people at average risk
Time between tests 10Years10 years with normal results. More frequently if high risk or polyps are found. 3 Years3 years with normal results 1 YearAnnually

*If test results are positive, a diagnostic colonoscopy will be required to confirm or rule out cancer. This may or may not be covered by insurance and result in additional out-of-pocket expenses.

Colon Cancer Risk Factors

Patients with colon polyps are at a greater risk for colorectal cancer. But colon cancer can be prevented with regular screening and early treatment. Most people think they don’t need to be checked unless they have symptoms or family history. However, most colon polyps do not cause symptoms – even the larger ones. The only way to know if you do or do not have colon cancer is to undergo the recommended colonoscopy screening based on your personal and family history. It is also important to know the following key risk factors that will affect your colon health or screening schedule:

  • Having a genetic link or family history of colon cancer
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Smoking cigarettes and smokeless tobacco use
  • Having a diet high in animal fat and red meat
  • Having inflammatory bowel disease
  • Age
  • Being African American
  • Consuming alcohol
  • Lack of exercise
  • Lack of sleep

Being aware of your risk factors and managing those you can control will help lower your risk of colon cancer.

Preventing Colon Cancer with a Colonoscopy

Prevention is key reducing your risk of colon cancer, particularly removing polyps that are precursors to cancer during routine colonoscopies. In addition, we remind patients to be mindful about their digestive health by eating a diet high in fiber and low in animal fat and losing weight, if necessary. Avoiding tobacco products can reduce the risk of colon cancer significantly.

A proactive approach to lifestyle changes and remembering to schedule a colonoscopy can have a significant impact on your colon health, but also your overall health.

Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines

Colon cancer screening guidelines have changed as scientists learn more about populations at risk for the disease. Current guidelines recommend starting colonoscopies at age 45 for most adults. 

For those with a first-degree family member having been diagnosed with colon cancer or advanced, large polyps, colonoscopies should start at age 40. This is particularly important for people with parents or siblings who have had colon cancer. Colon cancer under the age of 40 is increasing in numbers, so it is important to be mindful of your digestive health. No matter what age, if you have abnormal symptoms such as unexplained rectal bleeding, talk with your primary care provider about colon cancer screening.

Comprehensive Treatment for Colon Health

Our fellowship trained, board-certified team is skilled in providing comprehensive care for both normal and complex conditions of the colon. Our extensive experience includes routine procedures such as colonoscopies, but also advanced procedures such as endoscopic submucosal dissection (ESD). This is an advanced endoscopic procedure used to remove gastrointestinal tumors that have not entered the muscle layer. Transanal endoscopic microsurgery excision (TEM) and transanal minimally invasive surgery (TAMIS) procedures can often remove large polyps without major surgery even if the tumor has entered the muscle layer. 

If a patient is diagnosed with colon cancer, our multidisciplinary team approach provides an entire team for your care, including:

  • Colorectal surgeons
  • Gastroenterologists
  • Medical oncologists
  • Pathologists
  • Radiologists
  • Radiation oncologists

Together, they will determine the right individual path of colon cancer treatment, including possible surgery, radiation, chemotherapy and ongoing monitoring. After treatment for colon cancer, patients will continue follow-up colonoscopies for careful monitoring of colon health.