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Although it is one of the leading causes of cancer-related deaths, colon cancer is largely preventable through timely screening and lifestyle changes that include a healthy diet (rich in fruits and vegetables, low in fat, high in fiber), avoidance of smoking and excess weight. Exercise is also helpful because it stimulates gastrointestinal motility. Your risk of colon cancer is higher if you have a history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis) or a personal or family history of colon or other cancers that increase the probability of a cancer syndrome. Learn more about colorectal cancer risk factors.
Screening guidelines for colorectal cancer
The following screening guidelines can lower the number of cases of the disease, and can also lower the death rate from colorectal cancer by detecting the disease at an earlier, more treatable stage.
Some screening tests are used because they have been shown to be helpful both in finding cancers early and decreasing the chance of dying from these cancers. Other tests are used because they have been shown to find cancer in some people; however, it has not been proven in clinical trials that use of these tests will decrease the risk of dying from cancer.
Scientists study screening tests to find those with the fewest risks and most benefits. Cancer screening trials also are meant to show whether early detection (finding cancer before it causes symptoms) decreases a person's chance of dying from the disease. For some types of cancer, finding and treating the disease at an early stage may result in a better chance of recovery.
Clinical trials that study cancer screening methods are taking place in many parts of the country. Information about ongoing clinical trials is available from the NCI Web site.
Studies show that screening for colorectal cancer helps decrease the number of deaths from the disease.
Learn more about colonoscopy, the most common screening test for colon and rectal cancer.
Clinical trials are research studies that evaluate a new medical approach, device, drug, or other treatment. As a Stanford Health Care patient, you may have access to the latest, advanced clinical trials.
Open trials refer to studies currently accepting participants. Closed trials are not currently enrolling, but may open in the future.