Pick a Test

There are several colorectal cancer screening options to choose from. Each screening test has different features. Below are screening tests that are available to UCLA Health patients: Colonoscopy, fecal immunochemical test (FIT), stool DNA test, CT colonoscopy (virtual colonoscopy), and flexible sigmoidoscopy.

Download screening options list

Tests that visualize your colon

Colonoscopy
Performed every 10 years

  • Uses a colonoscope (“scope”) with a light and camera to examine the inside lining of the colon while the patient is sedated
  • Considered the gold standard for finding colon cancer or precancerous polyps
  • Can prevent colorectal cancer
  • Can detect very early colorectal cancers
  • Requires patients to take a “bowel prep” or bowel cleanse to empty the colon the day before the procedure
  • Procedure is performed in a hospital or medical clinic
  • Requires sedation (anesthesia) to put the patient to sleep
  • Risks include bleeding, infection, and perforation but these are considered minimal with a reported complication rate of less than 1:1000 at UCLA Health.
  • If normal, must be repeated in 10 years

CT colonoscopy (virtual colonoscopy)
Performed every 5 years

  • Uses a CT scan (CAT scan) to inspect the lining of the colon for polyps
  • Requires patients to take a “bowel prep” or bowel cleanse to empty the colon the day before the procedure
  • Procedure is performed in a hospital or medical clinic
  • Not able to detect very small polyps
  • If the test detects polyps or cannot differentiate between what may be a polyp, a colonoscopy must be performed to further investigate and remove the polyps

Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
Performed every 5 years

  • Uses a colonoscope (“scope”) with a light and camera to examine the inside lining the colon while the patient is sedated
  • Examines only the bottom portion of the colon
  • Can prevent colorectal cancer
  • Can detect very early colorectal cancers
  • Requires patients to take a “bowel prep” or bowel cleanse to empty the colon the day before the procedure
  • Can be done in clinic
  • Does not require sedation or anesthesia
  • If polyps are found, a colonoscopy must be performed

Tests that check your stool

Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Performed once a year

  • Tests the stool for small amounts of human blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye
  • Patient can perform the test at home
  • Patient uses materials provided to collect a small stool sample  
  • Kit with small stool sample is mailed to the laboratory at UCLA for processing
  • If the result is abnormal (positive for blood), a colonoscopy must be performed to find the source of blood loss
  • Very low-risk screening option
  • Must be performed each and every year to be most effective

Fecal immunochemical & DNA Test (Cologuard)
Performed every 3 years

  • Includes a test for DNA markers associated with colorectal cancer and for small amounts of human blood that cannot be seen with the naked eye
  • Test kit is sent to the patient’s home
  • Patient uses materials provided to collect a small stool sample
  • Test kit with small stool sample is mailed to the laboratory for processing
  • Needs to be performed every three years to be most effective
  • If the result is abnormal, a colonoscopy must be performed

 

Need help deciding which screening test is right for you? Learn more by watching the video below.

 

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