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A colonoscopy can keep you at peak performance. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. The disease often grows with no symptoms until it’s at an advanced stage. But when detected in its earliest stages, colorectal cancer is treatable.
If you notice a change in bowel habits, dark stools, rectal bleeding, cramping/abdominal pain, or persistent weakness and fatigue, see your doctor right away. Most of these symptoms are likely to be caused by conditions other than colon cancer, but they could also be signs of colon cancer so you should get checked out immediately. Don't wait – you have a much better chance of fighting colon cancer if it's found early.
According to the American Cancer Society*, colon cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the U.S., the second leading cause of cancer death in men and women, and it's largely reversible.
Regular screening is the best way to find colon cancer early. Some screening tests may prevent colon cancer entirely.
People who have no identified risk factors – other than age – should begin testing for colon cancer at age 50. If you have a family history of this cancer or have other conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease, you should talk with your doctor about earlier screenings.
Tests that may diagnose colon cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk use one of the screening tests below:
*Source: AmericanCancerSociety.com, revised 2/25/10.
**Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
***For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. A FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor's office is not adequate for screening.
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