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Screening saves lives

Screening is the No. 1 way you can reduce your risk of colon cancer and rectal cancer. 

With screening, colorectal cancer is one of the most preventable cancers. Colon cancer and rectal cancer are also highly treatable if caught early. That’s why on-time screening is essential and lifesaving!

Below learn:

  • When you should be screened
  • Screening methods
  • Common symptoms
  • Role of genetics and family history

When it comes to screening, tomorrow can’t wait


Estimated colorectal cancer cases in 2020.

1 in 24

Average lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer.

1 In 3

Adults ages 50-75 is not getting screened, as recommended.

When you should be screened 

All men and women without a family history of colorectal cancer should begin colorectal cancer screenings at age 45, according to recommendations from the American Cancer Society. A person’s individual risk factors—such as those with symptoms, a family history of the disease, or certain medical conditions—may affect when and how often screening should occur.

Is this you? Here's what to do. 

Screening methods

Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps, so that they can be removed before they turn into cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer early, when treatment works best.

Need help?

Our team of certified patient and family navigators is here to assist you.

Symptoms list

Colorectal cancer (cancer in the colon or rectum) first develops with few, if any, symptoms. Be proactive and talk to your doctor. If symptoms are present, they may include:

A change in bowel habits

Including diarrhea, constipation, a change in the consistency of your stool or finding your stools are narrower than usual

Persistent abdominal discomfort

Such as cramps, gas, or pain and/or feeling full, bloated or that your bowel does not empty completely

Rectal bleeding

Finding blood (either bright red or very dark) in your stool

Weakness or fatigue

Can also accompany losing weight for no known reason, nausea or vomiting

Colorectal cancer symptoms can also be associated with many other health conditions. Only a medical professional can determine the cause of your symptoms. Early signs of cancer often do not include pain. It is important not to wait before seeing a doctor. Early detection can save your life.

Track your symptoms 

Use this resource to track your symptoms and share them with your doctor.

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Video: Reduce risk

Dr. Tim Byers: How to prevent colorectal cancer

Dr. Tim Byers explains what you can do to be proactive about your health and how to prevent colorectal cancer.

Colorectal cancer is unique in that it is one of the most preventable and, if found early, most treatable forms of cancer. While screening is the most important step you can take to prevent colorectal cancer, it’s not the only one.

From making changes in your diet to knowing your family’s health history, it’s never too early to start making the small choices that really pay off. Start today by taking our colorectal cancer risk quiz, learning more about genetics and family history or finding the screening test that’s right for you.

Genetics and family history

The majority of colorectal cancer patients do not have a family history or genetic connection to the disease. This is when the cancer occurs by chance, and is often called “sporadic cancer.”

However, in some families, we see more cancer than we would expect. About one in four patients have a family history of colorectal cancer that could suggest a genetic and/or hereditary factor.

A family history of colorectal cancer, that is, an immediate family member (parent, brother, sister) or multiple family members with colorectal cancer or polyps, puts you at an increased risk for the disease.

Become an ally! 

Founded in 1999 by more than 40 survivors, caregivers, and friends, today the Colorectal Cancer Alliance is the nation's leading nonprofit dedicated to ending colorectal cancer. We empower a nation of allies who work with us to provide support for patients and families, caregivers, and survivors; raise awareness of preventive measures; and inspire efforts to fund critical research. Join us!


From 5Ks to charity galas, find an event near you.



Fund programs to screen, care, and cure colorectal cancer.



Make a difference in your community.


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