Healthy Words to Live By | Colorectal Cancer Screening Saves Lives with Jonathan Sedeyn, DO, PhD General Surgeon

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer, but it doesn’t have to be. There is strong scientific evidence that screening for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 saves lives! Both men and women can get colorectal cancer, and the risk increases with age. If you are 45 or older, getting a colorectal screening test could save your life. Here’s how.

The gold standard for colorectal cancer screening is a screening colonoscopy. A screening colonoscopy is a simple outpatient test done under sedation that utilizes digital imaging equipment. Most colon cancers start as polyps, which can be removed during this procedure. It’s important to note that removal of these polyps may prevent colon cancer. Keep in mind: most colon polyps and early cancers usually have no symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to have a colonoscopy.

Screening Recommendations

People who are age 45 or older. For people at average risk for colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends starting regular screening at age 45.

*For screening, people are considered to be at average risk if they do not have:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
  • A family history of colorectal cancer
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
  • A personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer

Individuals with a family history of colon or rectal cancer or of colon polyps. Individuals with a family history of colon or rectal cancer should begin screenings earlier than 45. Talk to your doctor about what’s right for you.

It’s important to note that the United States Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends that people at average risk starting screening at age 50, whereas the American Cancer Society now recommends starting at age 45. There’s nothing to stop insurers from covering the tests starting at age 45, and some are likely to do so, but at this time insurers are not required to (and some might not) cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening before age 50.


The Affordable Care Act requires health plans that started on or after September 23, 2010 to cover colorectal cancer screening tests, which includes a range of test options. In most cases there should be no out-of-pocket costs for these tests, such as co-pays or deductibles.

For more information or to schedule your screening colonoscopy with Dr. Sedeyn, please call 304.675.1666.


*Information from the American Cancer Society