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UCLA Vatche & Tamar Manoukian Division of Digestive Diseases

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Colon Cancer Screening

UCLA Digestive Diseases, Colon Cancer Real Questions

Colon Cancer Facts* 

Preparing for Your
Colonoscopy Guide
English  | Español

  • In 2014 about 136,830 people were predicted to be diagnosed with colorectal cancer
  • In both men and women, colorectal cancer is the third most commonly diagnosed cancer and the third leading cause of cancer death.
  • The majority of these cancers and deaths could be prevented by applying existing knowledge about cancer prevention and by increasing the use of established screening tests.
  • Screening tests include:
    • Colonoscopy
    • Stool tests for occult blood - High-sensitivity guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy
    • Double-contrast barium enema
    • CT colonoscopy (virtual colonoscopy)
    • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
    • Stool DNA test
    • Consult your physician to determine the preferred test for you

*According to the American Cancer Society

How Screenings Can Save Your Life!  

Screening has the potential to prevent colorectal cancer because most colorectal cancers develop from adenomatous polyps. Polyps are noncancerous growths in the colon and rectum. Though most polyps will not become cancerous, detecting and removing them through screening can actually prevent cancer from occurring. Furthermore, being screened at the recommended frequency increases the likelihood that when colorectal cancer is present, it will be detected at an earlier stage, when it is more likely to be cured, treatment is less extensive, and the recovery is much faster.

Risk Factors You Cannot Avoid

  • Age - The chances of having colorectal cancer go up after age 50
  • Heredity and family history
  • Past diagnosis of colorectal cancer
  • Having chronic inflammatory bowel disease
  • Inherited syndromes such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch syndrome, Turcot syndrome, Peutz-Jeghers syndrome and MUTYH-associated polyposis
  • Some racial and ethnic groups such as African Americans and Jews of Eastern European descent (Ashkenazi Jews) have a higher colorectal cancer risk

Risk Factors You Can Change

  • Physical inactivity
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Eat a healthy diet that includes a variety of vegetables and fruits, has limited red and processed meats, reduced fats and whole grains instead of of refined grain products
  • Control Type-2 diabetes
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Alcohol in moderation

What are the symptoms of colorectal cancer?

Early colorectal cancer often has no symptoms, which is why screening is so important. Most colorectal cancers begin as a polyp, a small growth in the wall of the colon. As a polyp grows, it can bleed or obstruct the intestine. See your doctor if you have any of these symptoms. While they may not represent serious problems, they could be signs of colon cancer:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Blood in the stool or in the toilet after having a bowel movement
  • Dark- or black-colored stools
  • A change in the shape of the stool (e.g.m more narrow than usual)
  • Cramping or discomfort in the lower stomach
  • A feeling of discomfort or an urge to have a bowel movement when there is no need to have one
  • New onset of constipation or diarrhea that lasts for more than a few days
  • Decreased appetite
  • Unintentional weight loss

Colorectal Cancer Treatment

Patients diagnosed with early to advanced colorectal cancer can rest assured they are receiving the best and most integrated care available through UCLA's Colorectal Cancer Treatment Program and the GI Oncology Program, which simplifies how patients and their specialists communicate with one another.

Make An Appointment

Phone: UCLA Physician Referral Service at 1-800-UCLA-MD1 (800-825-2631)
Phone: Digestive Diseases Call Center (310) 825-1597
Or by Email:
  Appointment Form »

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