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Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Is a Colonoscopy My Only Choice? Weighing Your Colon Cancer Screening Options

Posted By: Advancing Care

Medically reviewed by Rajkumar Jeganathan, MD

Colorectal cancer, or colon cancer — which affects either the colon or rectum — is the third most prevalent form of cancer and the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

Unfortunately, according to research from the American Cancer Society, colon cancer cases are on the rise for adults under 50.

By age 45, regular screenings become crucial for early detection and prevention. However, if the prospect of a traditional colonoscopy is daunting, alternative screening options are available.

Weighing Your Colon Cancer Screening Options


  • Uses a flexible tube with a small camera inserted into the rectum to visualize the entire colon
  • Gold standard for detecting and preventing colorectal cancer, with high sensitivity for polyps
  • Recommended every 10 years for average-risk individuals

Stool DNA Test

  • Analyzes stool samples for genetic markers associated with colorectal cancer
  • Good sensitivity for detecting colorectal cancer but less effective for identifying precancerous polyps
  • Recommended every three years

Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) or Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT)

  • Stool-based tests that detect blood in the stool
  • Effective for detecting hidden blood, but less sensitive for precancerous polyps
  • Usually recommended annually

Virtual Colonoscopy (CT Colonography)

  • Non-invasive imaging using CT scans to visualize the colon
  • Effective at detecting polyps and cancers, but may not be as accurate as a colonoscopy. A follow-up colonoscopy is needed for polyp removal
  • Recommended every five years

The screening method you choose should align with your individual risk factors, preferences and a discussion with your healthcare provider. WMCHealth offers comfortable and convenient colon cancer screening services at network facilities around the Hudson Valley.To schedule an appointment, visit WMCHealth Physicians and Bon Secours Medical Group.

WMCHealth also has Colorectal Oncology Program at Westchester Medical Center where patients receive excellent care for cancers and tumors of the colon, rectum and anus. Our team of surgeons is renowned for pioneering techniques in laparoscopic-assisted colorectal surgery.