Colorectal Cancer Screening

Colorectal cancer is often curable when detected early. Colorectal cancer screening helps us find cancer before it causes symptoms or spreads to other areas of your body. This is when treatment is most effective. At Henry Ford Health, you’ll find the latest colorectal cancer screening tools and an experienced team.

Get Screened

Get started with your screening today. Contact the cancer screening team or call (800) 436-7936.

Why choose Henry Ford for colorectal screening?

Henry Ford has one of the oldest and most respected colorectal cancer programs in Michigan. People in Detroit and throughout Michigan turn to us for colorectal screening because we offer:

  • Convenient access: It’s easy to request a colorectal cancer screening appointment. We help you find the screening location that’s most convenient for you. And our open-access colonoscopy program means you may get a test without first seeing a gastroenterologist.
  • Experienced team: The board-certified gastroenterologists on our colonoscopy team have extensive experience performing and interpreting colorectal cancer screening tests. They can spot and remove abnormal growths early, which may prevent colorectal cancer.
  • Continuum of care: If we find cancer during screening, we guide you through the next steps. We offer all the diagnostic procedures, treatments and support services you need.

What is colorectal cancer screening?

Cancer screenings are tests you have regularly to catch cancer early. Screening looks for cancer before symptoms appear. Diagnostic tests check you after symptoms appear or evaluate problems we detected during screening. Colorectal cancer screening checks for signs of cancer in your colon, rectum or anus.

Screening tests look for different signs, such as:

  • Hidden blood in your stool
  • Abnormal sections of DNA in your cells
  • Clusters of abnormal cells called polyps

Polyps are the most common sign of colon cancer, rectal cancer and anal cancer. Polyps can be harmless (benign), precancerous (may turn into cancer) or cancerous. We can often remove polyps during a colonoscopy, the most common colorectal cancer screening test. We test the polyps to find out if they’re cancerous.

A Colorectal Screening Saved My Life

Deborah’s screening found a colon cancer that required surgery then three months of chemotherapy. Now she’s cancer free.

Deborah posed in the sunny outdoors
gastroenterologist talking to man about colonoscopy
Get Screened

Colorectal cancer screening is the best means to catch pre-cancerous polyps and diagnose colon cancer at its earliest stage, when it’s treatable and curable.

Colorectal screening guidelines

Our cancer experts recommend colorectal cancer screening starting at age 45 and continuing until age 75 for those with an average risk. If you are at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, start screening at age 40 or as recommended by your doctor.

You’re at an increased risk of colorectal cancer if you have:

  • Family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps or certain inherited diseases
  • History of colorectal polyps
  • Had radiation therapy to your abdomen or pelvic region
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)


Colorectal cancer screening options

At Henry Ford, we recommend the screening test that’s right for your age, health and risk level. While a colonoscopy is the most common colorectal cancer screening test, it may not be right for everyone. Our personalized approach means you always receive the best test for your needs.

The two main types of colorectal cancer screening tests are:

  • Stool-based tests: Stool tests for colon cancer check for hidden blood in your stool or cells with abnormal DNA changes. Stool tests, such as Cologuard®, are usually at-home tests. You collect a stool sample and send it to the lab. If you get an abnormal result from a stool test, you’ll need a visual exam such as a colonoscopy. Stool tests might be appropriate for people not healthy enough for a colonoscopy.
  • Visual tests: Visual tests, such as a colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, examine your colon and rectum. Your doctor inserts a scope (flexible tube) into your anus to look for polyps. A virtual colonoscopy uses X-rays and CT scans instead of a scope to examine your large intestine. You may get a virtual colonoscopy if you can’t have the sedation necessary for a standard colonoscopy.

Colonoscopy versus at-home colon cancer tests

Many people wonder about the differences between a colonoscopy and an at-home colorectal cancer test. At-home tests are less invasive and more convenient, but they’re less accurate than colonoscopies. You also need at-home testing more often (every one to three years), while you only need a colonoscopy every 10 years if you’re at an average risk. Learn more about at-home alternatives to colonoscopy.

  • Colonoscopy
  • At-home colon screening
  • Preparation required
  • Most sensitive test — considered gold standard — for colon cancer screening
  • Polyps can be removed during the screening exam
  • If polyps found, doctor informs immediately after screening
  • Receive results in three days or less
  • Recommended repeat testing on normal test is every 10 years
  • No preparation required
  • Less sensitive than a colonoscopy at detecting pre-cancerous polyps
  • Not recommended if family history of colon cancer, previous cancer or colon/rectum disease
  • Polyps will not be removed
  • At-home test misses one out of 13 people with cancer that would be detectable by colonoscopy
  • Results do not confirm whether cancer present
  • If cancer is detected, a colonoscopy is needed to confirm results and remove polyps
  • Receive results up to two weeks later
  • Recommended repeat testing every one to three years
gastroenterologist talking to patient
At-Home Alternatives to Colonoscopy

Learn more about the screening options for colorectal cancer and decide if an at-home test is right for you.

Talk to your doctor about your colorectal cancer risk and your screening options. To make an appointment for your colonoscopy or to talk with your doctor about your risk, call (800) 436-7936.

  • What you need to know about polyps

    Polyps are abnormal growths in the colon that may turn into cancer if left untreated. Polyps can:

    • Be large or small. Bigger polyps are more likely to be precancerous, which means they might lead to cancer.
    • Grow directly on the colon, or from a stalk. Polyps with a stalk are less likely to become cancerous.
    • Swell into the colon or rectum.

    When doctors find polyps during colonoscopy, they often remove them immediately. This approach can decrease your risk of colon cancer.

    Physicians may use one of two techniques to remove polyps. They can:

    • Destroy small polyps using an electrical current, called electrosurgery
    •  Use a wire loop to snare and remove larger polyps

    Your doctor will send the polyps to a pathology lab for more testing. It can take about a week to receive the results. If your doctor finds polyps during your colonoscopy, you may need further tests for an accurate diagnosis.

  • Advanced genetic screening and counseling

    Although most people who are diagnosed with colon cancer are older than age 40, some patients are younger. We may recommend genetic counseling for these younger patients and their family members.

    If you may be at risk for an inherited cancer, we’ll work with you and our genetics team to recommend next steps. And, we’ll help you and your family members navigate any additional screening or care you may need.

Schedule a colonoscopy
Call us at (800) 436-7936. 

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