Virginia Commonwealth University

VCU Massey Cancer Center

Colorectal cancer

Everyone should have a rectal exam as part of a periodic health examination. At age 50, everyone should have yearly fecal occult blood tests (to determine if there is blood in the feces) and a sigmoidoscopy every three to five years. Your doctor may want to examine you more often if you have a family history of colon polyps, colon cancer, adenomas, inflammatory bowel disease or a personal history of ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer. Discuss these risk factors with your doctor.

Warning signs:

  • A change in the nature or frequency of bowel movements
  • Blood in the feces (either bright red or very dark red in color)
  • Persistent stomach discomfort or gas pains
  • A feeling that the bowel does not empty completely
  • Constant tiredness