Colon Screening

UT Southwestern Medical Center offers colon cancer screening to detect the presence of colon polyps or other abnormalities that may indicate the presence of colon cancer, rectal cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), and other conditions.

Well before symptoms may develop, our colon cancer screening program helps prevent the occurrence of cancer by enabling patients to have pre-cancerous colon polyps removed. Our screening program also detects colon cancer in its early stages, while it is highly curable.

The comprehensive colon cancer screening program at UT Southwestern includes colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy, contrast barium enema, fecal immunochemical tests, and fecal occult blood tests.

Why Screen? 

Colon cancer screening options put the odds in your favor. So what are you waiting for? Learn about the importance of colon cancer screening and various ways to screen.

Determining When To Screen

Beginning at age 50, individuals who have no family history of colon cancer or polyps should work with their doctor to choose one of the following options for colorectal cancer screening:

  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy or a contrast barium enema every five years
  • Fecal occult blood test or a fecal immunochemical test every year

Individuals with a family history of colorectal cancer should be screened for colon cancer, with the age and frequency determined in consultation with a physician or genetic counselor.

Individuals who have a higher risk for colon cancer should begin screening earlier and have the examinations performed more often. People are considered as having a higher risk if they have a history of colon cancer, polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease, or have a family history that includes colon cancer or polyps.

Although a digital rectal examination is typically performed by a doctor during a routine physical examination, the American Cancer Society states that the test is not recommended as a stand-alone test for colon cancer. Research shows that the digital rectal examination misses more than 90 percent of abnormalities of the colon, including cancer, according to the ACS.