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Redefining DigestiveCare Around You.
Filming this video took place prior to COVID-19 pandemic

Can Colorectal Polyps and Cancer Be Found Early?

Screening is the process of looking for cancer or pre-cancer in people who have no symptoms of the disease. Regular colorectal cancer screening is one of the most powerful tools against colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk* of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45.   When colorectal cancer is found at an early stage before it has spread, the 5-year relative survival rate is about 90%. Several tests can be used to screen for colorectal cancer.
The most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose.

*For screening, people are considered to be at average risk if they DO NOT have:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps

  • A family history of colorectal cancer

  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)

  •  A confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)


Colorectal cancer screening options

Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
The fecal immunochemical test (FIT) checks for hidden blood in the stool from the lower intestines. This test must be done every year. It can be done in the privacy of your own home and there are no drug or dietary restrictions before the FIT test is completed. If the test result is positive (that is, if hidden blood is found), a follow-up colonoscopy will need to be done to investigate further. Although blood in the stool can be from cancer or polyps, it can also be from other causes, such as ulcers, hemorrhoids, or other conditions.  Reach out to your primary care doctor if you are an average risk patient eligible for an at-home FIT screening. Your health care provider will give you the supplies you need for testing.  FIT FAQ's

Cologuard® test 
Cologuard® is a noninvasive screening method that tests for both DNA changes and blood in the stool, it is effective in finding both pre-cancer and cancer. This test should be completed every 3 years. A Cologuard® test can be completed in the privacy of your own home and it does not require you to follow a special diet or change your medications prior to completing the test. Cologuard® does produce some false positive results, so any positive should be discussed with your primary care doctor and followed by a colonoscopy.  Cologuard® is prescribed through your health care provider and cannot be purchased over the counter. Reach out to your primary care doctor if you are an average risk patient eligible for an at-home Cologuard® screening.  Cologuard FAQ's 

A colonoscopy is a diagnostic procedure completed in a hospital or clinic location. For an average risk patient a colonoscopy can be completed every 10 years. This type of screening looks at the inside of the colon and rectum for any abnormal areas that might be cancer or polyps. During a colonoscopy, the doctor looks at the entire length of the colon and rectum with a colonoscope, a flexible tube about the width of a finger with a light and small video camera on the end.  It’s put in through the anus and into the rectum and colon. Special instruments can be passed through the colonoscope to biopsy (take a sample) or remove any suspicious-looking areas such as polyps, if needed. It’s important that the colon and rectum are emptied before this test to get the best images, so a colonoscopy requires a bowel prep regimen prior to the appointment. Patients are typically sedated during the procedure, in which case you will need someone to drive you home.
 VIDEO - Preparing for your Colonoscopy

For additional information related to colorectal cancer screening options visit the Carle Digestive Health Tools and Instructions page. 

Research and Clinical Trials

At Carle, we understand the importance of research and the role research plays in providing quality care to our patients. Research initiatives offer new information about how to combat disease, show new ways of thinking about treatment and possible cures. Carle physicians also partner with scientists at the University of Illinois to study evolving fields in the science of microbiomes, inflammatory bowel disease, C diff, constipation, and other gut related illnesses.

Carle Digestive Health physicians are involved in many ongoing clinical research studies and clinical trials for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD), including Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis.

Our skilled physicians are invested in this research to further understand these chronic, sometimes debilitating gastrointestinal (GI) diseases and conditions. To learn more about digestive health research, visit our list of clinical trials or call (844) 37-RESEARCH (844-377-3732) or email us.


Meet Our Team

With doctors practicing in 80 specialties at locations throughout the region, it’s easy to find the right healthcare team at Carle. Our mission is to serve people through high quality care, medical research and education.



Charitable gifts are used for numerous projects and programs that enhance the healthcare experience for digestive health patients and their loved ones. With your support, we’ll expand the scope of services offered and further Carle’s dedication to the diagnosis and treatment of digestive issues.


Related Events

Awards and Accreditations

Recognized among the nation’s top hospitals, Carle provides excellent healthcare while continuously improving to meet the needs of our patients.

    • Commission on Cancer - Certified Rectal Cancer Facility
    • National Association for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy