What are the symptoms of colon cancer?

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or narrowing of the stool, that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that is not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding
  • Dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or abdominal [belly] pain
  • Weakness and fatigue

Who is at risk of getting colorectal cancer?

  • Both men and women
  • Risk increases with age – people 50 and older are at higher risk
  • People with a personal history of colon polyps
  • People with a family history of colorectal cancer
  • People with inflammatory bowel disease [Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis]

Why should I get screened for colorectal cancer?

Screening saves lives. Colorectal is the 2nd leading cause of cancer deaths in men and the 3rd leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. It is often found too late to be cured. When found early, colorectal cancer can usually be cured.

Watch a 2-minute video on colon cancer screening.

Types of Screening Tests


The doctor puts a long, thin tube into your rectum to check for polyps or cancer. You are sedated during this test.

How often: Every 10 years.

Stool Test (FOBT)

At home, you use a brush to place a small amount of stool on a test strip. You mail the test to the lab where stool samples are checked for blood.

How often: Once a year.

Reduce your risk by:

  • Eating a healthy diet high in dietary fiber
  • Exercising regularly
  • Losing weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol consumption

If you think you need colon cancer screening or if you are 50 years old and have never had screening before, call your doctor or make an appointment with a doctor at Union Health Center at 212-206-2755.