Talk to your doctor about these choices.

Colon cancer doctors looking at screen

What you need to know

A colonoscopy is the best defense against colon cancer. That’s because doctors can find polyps and remove them at the same time. But in some cases, other colon and rectal cancer screening tests may be recommended by your provider:

  • FIT: A take-home stool test that looks for blood in the stool. Most people find these screening tests simple because they are not invasive and can be done at home.

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy: A doctor uses a thin, flexible, lighted tube to look for blood and/or polyps in the colon. Polyps can be removed, and suspicious tissue can be snipped for biopsy. 
  • Stool DNA test: The newest stool test looks for blood and genetic markers for colon cancer. Although this test is approved by the FDA, it is still being studied for usefulness and accuracy.
  • CT colonography (computed tomographic colonography, also known as "virtual" colonoscopy): Air is pumped into the colon and a special CT scan is taken. 
  • Double contrast barium enema: A chalky liquid and air are pumped into the colon, which makes the colon expand and allows clear X-rays to be taken.

If these tests detect an issue, you will still need to have a colonoscopy. Talk to your doctor about whether an alternative test is the right choice for you.

Schedule an appointment

To schedule your testing, talk to your primary care doctor or find a doctor.