Colon Cancer Screenings

If you have questions or would like to make an appointment, please call 740-779-8530.

Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Americans, yet it is one of the most preventable cancers. Regular screenings can detect polyps in the colon, which can be removed before turning cancerous. All adults should begin screenings at age 50 or earlier if they are at higher risk. Risk factors include:

  • Family history
  • History of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease
  • African American descent

Here is a look at the various screenings available. To learn more about early detection of colorectal cancer and these screenings, go online to the American Cancer Society or download the printable ACS guide.


A camera attached to a thin, flexible tube is guided through the large intestine. Physicians look for polyps and remove them before they turn into cancer. Every 10 years. Most effective way of detecting polyps, which can be removed at time of test. Requires vigorous bowel cleansing procedure at home for 24 hours; requires sedation.

Stool test
A stool sample is analyzed for presence of blood. Performed annually. Simple, cost-effective and can be done at home. If blood is detected, colonoscopy is still required. Least effective way of detecting colon cancer.

Flexible sigmoidoscopy
Similar to colonoscopy but only inspects the lower parts of the colon. Every 5 years. Takes only 5 minutes and does not require bowel preparation or sedation. Only examines lower 1/3 of colon and will not detect cancer in the upper 2/3 of colon.

Barium enema with air contrast
Enema of chalky substance is given, then air is blown into colon and X-ray performed. Every 5 years.

Virtual colonoscopy
A special CT scan is used to image the colon. Every 5 years. More comfortable than colonoscopy, effective at detecting medium and large polyps but not effective at detecting small or flat polyps. Requires colonoscopy if polyps detected. Requires same bowel prep as colonoscopy. Not covered by Medicare or most insurers.

AHS colorectal.prevention final from Adena Health System
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