Colorectal Cancer Screening: Questions for the Doctor

If you’re 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 is a cancer that develops in 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, learn about the different types of tests that check for colorectal cancer. Then share what you learned with your doctor.

What about cost?

Insurance plans must cover colorectal cancer screening for adults ages 45 to 75. That means you may be able to get colorectal cancer screening at no cost to you. Talk with your insurance company to find out more.

What do I ask the doctor?

When you visit the doctor, it helps to have questions written down ahead of time. You can also ask a family member or close friend to go with you to take notes of the conversation for you. 

Print this list of questions and take it to your next appointment.

  • Am I at risk for colorectal cancer?
  • When do you recommend that I start getting tested?
  • How often do I need to get tested?
  • What are the different types of screening tests for colorectal cancer?
  • Which screening test do you recommend for me? Why?
  • 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 January 14, 2022

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

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