Health Conditions

Colorectal Cancer Screening: Conversation Starters

A man and woman hold hands while walking.

Everyone ages 45 to 75 years needs to get screened (tested) regularly for colorectal cancer. If you're worried about a family member or friend who has put off getting screened, use these tips to start a conversation.

Start by letting them know you care.

Try saying:

  • “I want you to live a long and healthy life.”
  • “I want you to get tested so you don’t have to worry about colorectal cancer.”

Explain the reasons for getting screened.

You can say:

  • “Colorectal cancer is one of the most common kinds of cancer, and your risk increases as you get older.”
  • “If the doctor finds a growth in your colon during the test, they can remove it before it even turns into cancer.”
  • “If you do have colorectal cancer, getting tested regularly can help you find out early — when it may be easier to treat.”

Offer support.

You can say:

  • “What part of the test are you most worried about?”
  • “How can I make it easier for you to get tested?”
  • “Some parts of the test might make you uncomfortable, but it'll be over very quickly.”

Here are some ways to support a loved one:

  • Encourage your family member or friend to learn about the different types of screening tests that check for colorectal cancer and decide which test they might prefer
  • If your loved one decides to get a screening test, help make the appointment or offer to drive them 
  • Share this list of questions for the doctor to help your loved one get ready for their appointment
  • If you’re age 45 to 75 years, set an example — get screened for colorectal cancer and share your experience with your loved one

Content last updated February 9, 2023

Reviewer Information

This information on colorectal cancer was adapted from materials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute.

Reviewed by:
Rebecca Chasan, Ph.D.
Chief, Science Writing and Review Branch
Office of Communications and Public Liaison
National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health

For more information about colorectal cancer screening and prevention, check out: