Colorectal Cancer Screening

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Colorectal Cancer blue ribbon

What is colorectal cancer screening?

Colorectal screening is a way to check for signs of colorectal cancer before symptoms appear. Screening options include colonoscopies and stool tests which help doctors:

  1. Find and remove polyps before they become cancerous
  2. Detect cancer early when it's easier to treat and cure

Screening saves lives by catching colorectal cancer early, and in many cases, preventing it altogether.

Who needs colorectal cancer screening?

Did you know that more young people are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer than ever before?

Colorectal cancer is common — it’s the third most diagnosed cancer and second most common cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. — and it’s affecting people earlier in life. Since the mid-1990s, colorectal cancer rates in adults under the age of 55 have been rising at a pace of 1% to 2% year.

UCLA Health strongly recommends that adults at average risk of developing colorectal cancer begin screening at age 45. Screening starting at age 45 is also supported by several professional medical societies, including the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF) and the American Cancer Society (ACS).

For those with a family history of colorectal cancer or genetic factors that increase risk, screening should happen at age 40 or earlier. Talk to your doctor about the right age to get screened.

What are the types of colorectal cancer screening?

There are many types of screening tests that can detect and prevent colorectal cancer. At UCLA Health we recommend the two tests with the most scientific evidence:

  • Colonoscopy involves a doctor using a thin, flexible tube with a camera to check the colon for polyps or signs of cancer. If the first colonoscopy is normal, it will need to be repeated in 10 years for those at average risk for colorectal cancer. Getting a colonoscopy? One bowel prep may not be right for everybody. Pick the best prep for you and see how to prepare
  • FIT kit stool tests involve collecting a small sample of your stool at home and sending it to a lab for testing. After the first stool test at age 45, these tests are recommended every year for those with average risk of colorectal cancer. See how to prepare.

Consult your doctor to determine the best type of screening and schedule for you based on your personal health factors.

Schedule your screening

If you meet the criteria for a colorectal cancer screening, follow these steps:

  • Talk to your primary care provider (PCP) about a colonoscopy or FIT kit. If you don’t have a PCP, request an appointment with one.
  • Wait for your PCP to submit an order for a test.
  • After your PCP places an order in the system, schedule your colonoscopy by calling 310-825-7540
Brian Coyne and his wife, Mandy, shared his cancer diagnosis right away with their two young sons. "“I told them the same day,” Coyne said. “That’s how sure the doctor was about it.” (Photo courtesy of Brian Coyne)

Our Stories

Meet some of our amazing patients who advocate for change by sharing their stories of overcoming their fear of screening and breaking the stigmas associated with testing.

Lifelong Dodgers fan turns unforgettable double play

The 53-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, a lifelong Dodgers fan who began attending games with her father when she was a child, was delighted to share her story and promote the importance of screening at a preseason Dodgers-Angels game where she toured the stadium with her family and threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Angie was subsequently also honored at one of the first official games of the 2023 season. “Since African-Americans are particularly at risk for colorectal cancer, getting the message out that screening saves lives is especially important,” said Jones. “I’m living proof of that.”