Ask the Expert
Colon Cancer: Q&A with a Gastroenterologist
When’s the best time to get a colon cancer screening? And is it really necessary? (Spoiler alert: Yes!)
Johns Hopkins gastroenterologist Francis Giardiello, M.D. , answers patients’ most common questions about colon cancer screening.
How do I know which colon cancer screening is right for me?
There’s an array of screening options available. These include:
- Colonoscopy : In this procedure, a doctor uses a long scope with a camera to check your colon for polyps.
- Various stool sample tests : Most of these test your stool for blood.
- Virtual colonoscopy : This is a CT scan of your colon that checks for polyps.
Each screening has risks and benefits. Doctors today recommend most healthy people get a colonoscopy starting at age 50. If nothing abnormal is found, you probably won’t need another screening for 10 years.
One big benefit to a colonoscopy is that if any polyps are found, they can be removed at the same time. No additional procedure is necessary. Your primary care doctor can discuss with you the colon cancer screening options available today.