Prevention

Colorectal cancer screening and early detection

Colorectal cancer screenings allow your physician to find and remove polyps before they become cancerous.

If cancer has already begun, a screening gives your physician the opportunity to spot the signs at an early stage — when the disease is easier to cure and before you would likely notice symptoms. 

Schedule your colon cancer screening

Call (206) 606-1434 to schedule a colorectal cancer screening at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) South Lake Union clinic.

Who needs colorectal cancer screening?

The American Cancer Society recommends colorectal cancer screenings beginning at age 50 for people who have no known risk factors other than age. The frequency depends on the screening method.

If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or you have other risk factors for colorectal cancer, talk to your doctor about starting screenings earlier in life — and maybe being screened more often.

SCCA’s Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program offers a personalized approach to risk assessment, screening and prevention for people at high risk for gastrointestinal cancers.

Learn More About the Gastrointestinal Cancer Prevention Program

What are my screening options?

The main screening tests include:

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) — to detect any blood in your stool (which could be caused by cancer or by other some other condition).
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) — to check for blood in your stool. This test is more accurate than the FOBT.
  • Stool DNA test (Cologuard) — to check cells in your stool for abnormal DNA that may signal you have cancer or polyps. 
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy — to examine your rectum and the lower part of your colon for polyps or tumors using a flexible, lighted tube.
  • Colonoscopy — to examine your entire colon and rectum using a flexible, lighted tube. Your doctor can remove polyps during this test but not the other types of tests.
  • Computed tomographic (CT) colonography — to create detailed pictures of your colon and rectum using X-rays; also called virtual colonoscopy.

Each of these options is available to SCCA patients. CT colonography is done at the University of Washington Medical Center. 

If you have an abnormal FOBT, FIT, Cologuard or CT colonography, your doctor will recommend that you have a colonoscopy.

  • During your colonoscopy, your doctor will remove any polyps they find and take samples of any other abnormal tissue they see. 
  • Tissue samples and even entire polyps can be removed through the same tube used for the exam. 
  • A pathologist will the polyps or tissue samples under a microscope for cancer cells (a biopsy).