By: Nilesh Vora, M.D., medical director, MemorialCare Todd Cancer Institute at Long Beach Medical Center

The American Cancer Society estimates more than 106,500 people will be diagnosed with colon cancer and more than 46,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer in 2024. It’s highly recommended for adults with an average risk of colorectal cancer to begin screening for colorectal cancer at age 45 – five years sooner than previously recommended.

Most cases of colorectal cancer begin as small, benign clumps of cells called adenomatous polyps. Over time these polyps can become cancerous.

Several screenings can be used to find signs of colorectal cancer, like polyps. The types of colorectal cancer screenings available are:

  • Colonoscopy, when a gastroenterologist observes the inside of the large intestine (colon) for specific signs of colon cancer, like polyps. This is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening. Required a form of sedation and prep leading up to procedure.
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Colonography uses CT technology to produce multiple cross-sectional images of the intestinal tract. The images are then combined on a computer to create detailed images of the entire length of the colon.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy is a colorectal screening test that is less invasive than colonoscopy and can usually be done without sedation.
  • Stool Tests involve testing a feces sample for hidden blood in the stool. The test only detects the presence of blood and doesn’t indicate what is bleeding or what part of the intestine is bleeding. Stool tests cannot find and remove polyps.

Each screening has advantages and disadvantages, such as cost, convenience of screening at home, accuracy, and risk. While colonoscopies are considered the gold standard for screenings, the best screening is the one that gets done. If you haven’t been screened and are over the age of 45, make an appointment with your doctor to discuss screening options. You should be screened at least every 10 years, sometimes more frequently, depending on your medical and family history and your physician’s recommendation.

Along with colorectal cancer screenings, it’s essential to be aware of any changes in your body that could be warning signs of colorectal cancer, such as:

  • A change in bowel habits, such as diarrhea, constipation, or feeling that the bowel does not empty all the way
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool (often, though, the stool will look normal)
  • Cramping or abdominal (stomach) pain
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unintended weight loss

If you and your doctor decide a colonoscopy is the best screening for you, receiving your colonoscopy at MemorialCare connects you to the most advanced, minimally invasive treatments and screenings available. Once you receive a doctor’s referral for a colonoscopy, you can schedule your appointment at MemorialCare Medical Group. If you need a more advanced screening, you can come to MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, where you will have access to hospital-based resources not found at outpatient locations.

At MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center, we are the leaders in early detection and treating patients with early and advanced colorectal cancer. Our comprehensive, multidisciplinary team offers minimally invasive procedures and advanced technologies for colorectal cancers.

Want to schedule an appointment? Call 877-213-6783 or visit