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How you can prevent colon cancer

Get screened for colon cancer

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that everyone get screened for colorectal cancer, or colon cancer, starting at age 45. Here is some information on colon cancer, as well as some of the screenings you may want to discuss with your doctor.

If you need to find a doctor, use our Find Care tool.

how you can prevent colon cancerWhat is colon cancer?

Colon cancer forms in the rectum or colon, which are in the lower part of your digestive tract. According to the American Cancer Society, most colon cancers start as small growths called "polyps" in the lining of the digestive tract. Polyps may turn into cancer over time, but not all polyps become cancerous.

How can colon cancer be prevented?

The most effective way to prevent colon cancer is to get screened. Preventive screenings can help detect polyps so that they can be removed before they become cancerous.

Scientists are studying how diet, physical activity, tobacco and alcohol use can affect the risk for colon cancer.

Are colon cancer screenings covered by Blue Cross of Idaho?

Many colon cancer screenings/tests are covered as part of Blue Cross of Idaho health plan preventive care benefits. Please refer to your plan documents for more information on what is available to you. Blue Cross of Idaho uses the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) guidelines for colon cancer screening, including how often you should get screened.

Colon cancer screenings available

Here are the screenings that are available:

  • Screening Type: Colonoscopy
    A colonoscopy is the most effective screening option. Colonoscopy prep might require a specific diet or taking a laxative. A colonoscopy allows your doctor to look at your entire colon and remove any polyps that are found. The polyps are then sent to a lab for testing. Frequency: Every 10 years or as recommended by your doctor.
  • Screening Type: Sigmoidoscopy
    This procedure lets your doctor see the lower part of the colon. However, this test only covers the last third of your colon and requires a colon prep. Frequency: Every five years or as recommended by your doctor.
  • Screening Type: DNA stool test
    A DNA stool test checks for cells affected by colon cancers. If results are abnormal, a colonoscopy will be needed to see if you are at risk. Frequency: Every three years or as recommended by your doctor.
  • Screening Type: gFOBT (Fecal Occult Blood Test)
    This test can be done at home. Your doctor will give you a kit that you will use to submit stool samples to be checked for blood. If blood is found, a colonoscopy will be needed to see if polyps or something else is causing blood to appear. Frequency: Every year or as recommended by your doctor.

Talk to your doctor

Talk to your doctor about when you should get screened and which screening may be right for you. You can also take this short quiz from the Colorectal Cancer Alliance to see which screening options may be best for you. Screenings for colon cancer are the best-known ways to help prevent and find colon cancer early.

Learn more

Find out more about colon cancer with the Sharecare wellbeing app. With Sharecare, you’ll also find tips on how you can eat better, lower stress and be more active! To get the app, visit so you can create your Sharecare account, download the app and take the RealAge® Test. Do not download the Sharecare app directly from the App Store or Google Play.


Disclaimer: This wellness program is administered by Sharecare, Inc., an independent company that provides health improvement management services to Blue Cross of Idaho members. Sharecare, Inc., does not provide Blue Cross of Idaho products or services and is solely responsible for the health improvement management services it provides.

Posted: March 9, 2022