August 29, 2021

Why a Colon Cancer Screening Should Be at the Top of Your to-Do List

This piece originally appeared on

This back to school season, we want to make sure you schedule a colon cancer screening. Here’s why.

While back-to-school season is exciting for kids, it’s also a time for adults to plan ahead. You’re probably in the midst of making lots of lists for everything from school supplies, to grocery shopping, to outdoor chores. Some items you can easily put off until next fall (finally cleaning out that backyard shed can likely wait another year), but there’s one crucial item we want to make sure every eligible American puts at the top of their must-do list: getting screened for colon cancer.

Colon cancer is currently the second deadliest cancer in the U.S., but 60% of those deaths could be prevented with screening. If that’s not reason enough for you to make an appointment, stat, we’ve made a list (‘tis the season, after all) of reasons why this is one task that cannot wait:

1. Colon cancer screening now starts at age 45.

Thought you could put off getting screened until you were in your 50’s? The American Cancer Society and other expert groups have begun recommending that all average-risk Americans get screened for colon cancer starting at age 45. That’s a full five years earlier than had been previously suggested.

2. Colon cancer diagnoses are increasing in younger adults.

Yes, you read that right. A recent study of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer found that one in seven was under the age of 50.

3. Colon cancer is preventable and treatable, and catching it at an early stage does make a difference.

While that “one in seven” statistic is pretty scary, there is some good news: When colorectal cancer is detected in Stage I, it’s generally very treatable— and the removal of precancerous lesions can further prevent the disease from progressing.

4. People can be diagnosed with colon cancer without a family history or symptoms.

Maybe you’ve decided to delay your colon cancer screening by a few months because you feel healthy as a horse — and since nobody in your family has had colon cancer, you assume it’s unlikely they’ll find anything. But you might be surprised to hear that approximately seventy percent of people diagnosed with the disease have no family history of it. It’s also not uncommon for individuals diagnosed with early stage (stage I or II) colon cancer to feel perfectly fine. In many cases, people only start experiencing symptoms when colon cancer is in late stages or has spread.

5. You can get screened for colon cancer without leaving home.

Even if you’re continuing to social distance (or if the number one thing on your to-do list this fall is to catch up on all the new Netflix shows), there’s still no excuse to skip your colon cancer screening. Cologuard® is a noninvasive colon cancer screening option you can use at home. UPS® delivers a collection kit to your door, you collect a sample in your own bathroom, and UPS can pick it up and return it to the lab. (Anyone who receives a positive test result should have a follow-up colonoscopy.) There are also other at-home options for colon cancer screening, so speak with your health care provider to decide which test is right for you.

Though colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in this country, it’s also one of the few preventable cancers. If precancer is detected and removed during a colonoscopy, you may not develop cancer at all.

This fall, put your health at the top of your to-do pile and sign up for a colon cancer screening. It’s one item we know you’ll feel relieved to check off your list.

If you are 45 and older and at average risk for colon cancer, talk to your doctor to see if Cologuard may be right for you. Rx only. See for Important Risk Information.