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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


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Colon Cancer

While many people think of colon cancer as a “man’s disease,” it affects women in almost equal numbers – 75,000 American women will be diagnosed with the disease each year, and more than 26,000 will die of colon cancer.

But the good news is that colon cancer is one of the most preventable of cancers. It almost always starts as a small growth called a polyp. Testing can save lives by finding polyps and allowing their removal before they become cancer. Eating a low-fat diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, can also make you less likely to have colon cancer.

One of the following testing options is recommended beginning at age 50. Talk to your doctor about which is best for you.

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years
  • Yearly FOBT and flexible signoidoscopy every five years (preferred over either alone)
  • Double contrast barium enema every five years
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.

Any positive test should be followed up with a colonoscopy.
Discuss beginning earlier screening if you have a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps, a strong family history of either, a personal history of chronic inflammatory bowel disease or a family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome.

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