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Prevention and Detection

Routine Colonoscopies Can Save Lives - Schedule Your Colonoscopy Today 877-758-2626

45 is the New 50!

A colonoscopy is the most reliable way to prevent and detect colon cancer. We find polyps in at least 25 percent of men and women over the age of 45 through colonoscopies. As most colon cancer begins as precancerous polyps (called adenomas) detecting and removing these polyps are key to preventing cancer. Colonoscopy exams take approximately one hour to perform and are available at four convenient locations. Our compassionate staff takes the time to explain procedures, makes sure patients are comfortable and provides patients with reports immediately following the procedures. Patients are sedated during the procedure and may also receive pain medication to keep them relaxed. Most people are able to resume their normal activities the following day. Watch a video featuring U-M gastroenterologists explaining a colonoscopy procedure.

When and Why to Get a Colonoscopy or Other Colon Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer starts in either the colon or the rectum. The risk of a person having colorectal cancer in his or her lifetime is about 1 in 19. Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in the U.S. One of the many factors that can predict having colorectal cancer is family history. As a patient you have access to one of the leading cancer genetics programs to help identify genetic risk factors and provide screening recommendations for you and your family.

When colorectal cancers are detected and treated at an early stage (and have not spread beyond the colon or rectum) they are highly curable. Even better, colorectal cancer screening can detect and remove polyps at a precancerous stage – preventing cancer from developing at all. That’s why experts recommend colon cancer screening for all adults beginning at age 45, or earlier if there is family history of colorectal cancer or polyps. The purpose of a cancer-screening test is to find and remove adenomatous polyps, thereby preventing the development of cancer, or to find the cancer in its earliest stages. The earlier cancer is detected, the better the chances of fully recovering from it. By the time symptoms appear, cancer may have begun to spread.

Compassionate and Gentle Colon Cancer Screenings

Experts from the Division of Gastroenterology at the University of Michigan Health offer four different screening tests:

  • Colonoscopy: The preferred method for screening, this is an exam using a tube-like instrument to look inside the rectum and colon for polyps, abnormal areas or cancer. Tissue samples can be collected (biopsy) and abnormal growths or polyps can be removed. Watch our colonoscopy video to see how a colonoscopy is performed.
  • A Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) [pdf], or Fecal Immunochemical Occult Blood Test: A home stool test that is used to look for possible signs of colorectal cancer. FIT looks for a specific type of blood in the stool, which helps determine if a person has any polyps (growths of tissue) in the colon.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy: Using a tube-like instrument to look inside the rectum and lower colon for polyps, abnormal areas or cancer. Evaluates only the lower third of the colon.
  • Stool DNATesting (Cologuard): To check stool for gene alterations which might be a sign of polyps or cancer.

Choose the Michigan Medicine Health for Your Colonoscopy Exam

When it comes to colon cancer screening, it’s important to choose an experienced health care team. Our board-certified gastroenterologists have performed more than 150,000 colonoscopies in the last 10 years.

More Questions About Colonoscopy?

For more information about colon cancer screening, visit our Colonoscopy Frequently Asked Questions page. Or, take a tour a giant colon and learn how to keep it healthy.

Make an Appointment

Screening for colon cancer is an important step in the prevention of colon cancer. To schedule your colonoscopy, call 877-758-2626. No referral is needed unless you belong to an HMO.

Additional Information about Colorectal (Colon) Cancer Screening

Surgical oncologist Karin Hardiman, M.D. and gastroenterologist Keith Naylor, M.D., discuss prevention, screening and treatment options for colon and rectal cancers. This was originally presented as a Facebook Live: Colorectal Cancer Q & A.

Read/download the Colorectal Cancer Answers transcript.

Still have questions?

The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine™ have answers. Call 800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.