Colorectal Cancer Screening: Questions for the doctor

If you are age 45 to 75, get screened (tested) regularly for colorectal cancer. You may need to get tested before age 45 if colorectal cancer runs in your family.

Colorectal cancer includes cancer of the colon or rectum, which are parts of the large intestine. 

There are several kinds of screening tests for colorectal cancer. You can even do some at home. Before your next doctor visit, check out Colorectal Cancer Screening: Which test would I prefer? Then share what you learned with your doctor.

The Affordable Care Act requires most health insurance plans to cover many preventive services. This means you may be able to get screenings at no cost to you. Talk with your insurance company to learn more.

What do I ask the doctor?

Visiting the doctor can be stressful. It helps to have questions written down ahead of time. You may also want to ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes.

Print out these questions and take them to your appointment.

  • What is my risk for colorectal cancer?
  • When do you recommend that I start getting tested?
  • What are the different types of screening tests for colorectal cancer?
  • Which screening test do you recommend for me? Why?
  • How often do I need to get tested?
  • What happens during the test? How do I prepare?
  • Does the test have any risks or side effects?
  • How long will it take to get the results?
  • What can I do to reduce my risk of colorectal cancer?

Content last updated May 19, 2021

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

March 2019

April 2019