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Pancreatic and Colorectal Cancer Screening

For individuals at high risk for gastrointestinal related cancers, we offer pancreatic, colorectal and liver cancer screenings with the goal of finding cancer as early as possible, before symptoms begin. This is important as it means that you are less likely to develop cancer later in your life. Sometimes the screening test results in a finding that requires more follow up testing. It is always important to follow your doctor’s advice regarding additional testing.

We also offer Gastrointestinal and Pancreatic Cancer Prevention through our Digestive Health services. 

Who needs to get cancer screening tests?

We offer many different screening tests. If you have a regular doctor, you should ask her/him what tests are recommended for you. Your gender (sex), your age, your family history of any cancer, and possibly your race / ethnicity will be helpful in deciding when you should begin screening. Your doctor will guide you accordingly.

Learn more about our cancer screening programs

Colorectal Cancer Screening

Who should be screened for Colorectal Cancer?

  • Adults, beginning at age 45 and continuing until age 75
  • Younger adults (before age 45) who have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • For people ages 76-85, screening decision should be based on a personal preference, prior screening history and overall health. Those over 85 most likely do not benefit from having routine screening.
  • Frequency of screening depends upon type of screening test used, the results of the previous testing, as well as family history.

If you have any symptoms such as blood in stool or dark stools, abdominal pain, weight loss, or change in bowel habits, don't delay and share it with your doctor as more immediate attention might be needed.

What tests are available through the Smilow Screening and Prevention Program?

  • Colonoscopy: Examination of the inside of the colon using a colonoscope, a thin, flexible, lighted tube instrument inserted into the rectum. It has a tool to remove abnormal tissue to be examined for cancer under a microscope. Performed under sedation so there is no pain during the procedure, the test is most effective when the colon is totally clear of stool. That requires a liquid diet and bowel (prep) cleansing by laxatives a day or two before the procedure. A colonoscopy is not only a highly effective detection tool, but it’s also the only test that can prevent colorectal cancer by removing small growths or polyps before they become a problem. Frequency: Once every 10 years if negative or sooner if indicated due to polyps or other risk factors.
  • CT Colonography: This is a specialized CT scan used to evaluate the lining of the colon for growths or polyps. A bowel cleansing is required and a follow-up colonoscopy is recommended to remove any polyp detected during this test. Frequency: Once every 5 years if negative.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: Similar to a colonoscopy, this test uses a flexible, lighted tube inserted into the rectum, but it only examines the lower part of the colon. It generally requires less anesthesia and a bowel prep is required. Frequency: Once every 5 years if negative. Once every 10 years if combined with yearly FIT test.
  • Stool-Based Testing: Screening by stool testing is recommended for people at average risk of colorectal cancer. These tests can be done in the comfort of your home and don’t require changes in diet, medications or a bowel prep. Stool-based testing isn’t recommended for those at increased risk for colorectal cancer including patients with a personal history of polyps or cancers of the GI tract, family history of colorectal cancer, known genetic risk factors, inflammatory bowel disease or symptoms such as bleeding or anemia.
    • Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT): This test checks stool for blood. It is important to know that a positive test will require the patient to undergo a colonoscopy to determine if cancer or an advanced polyp is present. Frequency: Once every year, if negative.
    • Multi-targeted Stool DNA Test: This test checks stool for blood as well as certain DNA markers that are associated with colorectal cancer and polyps. It is important to know that a positive test will require the patient to undergo a colonoscopy to determine if cancer or an advanced polyp is present. Frequency: Once every three years if negative.

Who has a higher risk than average for developing colon cancer?

  • Family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • Genetic predisposition, such as Lynch Syndrome (a hereditary condition for developing benign polyps at an early age), polyposis or other colon cancer-related conditions
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease
  • Personal history of certain types of polyps

Colon Cancer Screening can save lives. Although there is somewhat greater benefits associated with colonoscopy, yearly FIT testing is also an effective colorectal cancer screening tool. Speak to your doctor to determine the best test for you.

Pancreatic Cancer Screening

The Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection program provides comprehensive risk assessment, education, and screening for patients at increased risk of pancreas cancer. Patients with a family history of pancreatic cancer, certain inherited genes, pancreatic cysts and new onset diabetes may be at increased risk for developing pancreatic cancer. Learn more about the Pancreatic Cancer Early Detection program.