Are myths keeping you from screening for a leading cause of cancer death?

Are myths keeping you from screening for a leading cause of cancer death?

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If your goal is prioritizing your health, you may be focusing on your daily diet and exercise habits, but are you overlooking a crucial screening? Even if you think you’re doing your best to improve your health, you may be avoiding an important health screening — perhaps because you’d rather not think about it, or you don’t think you’re at risk.

But did you know that colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 2nd leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. among men and women combined?[1] Yet 1 in 3 adults ages 50-75 is not getting screened.[2] A 51% increase in people under age 50 being diagnosed with colorectal cancer between 1994 and 2014[3] was just one of the reasons the American Cancer Society now recommends Americans begin screening at the age of 45.

If you’re one of the 44 million average-risk patients 45 and older who haven’t been screened yet, this is a critical step in making sure you’re making your health a priority.[4] Getting screened for CRC may be easier than you think — and there’s more than one option available. Make sure you know the facts so you can stay on top of your health.

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Here are some common myths about CRC, and what you need to know to protect your health:

MYTH #1: Colorectal cancer isn’t preventable.

FACT: CRC is the most preventable, yet the least prevented form of cancer.[5]

  • There were an estimated 147,950 new cases of CRC in 2020.[6]
  • When caught in early stages, colorectal cancer is more treatable in 90% of people.*[7]

MYTH #2: Only people with a family history of CRC need to get screened.

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FACT: At least 70% of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer have no family history.[8]

MYTH #3: You don’t have to get screened for CRC until you’re well over 50.

FACT: The American Cancer Society has updated its guidelines for screening based on increasing diagnoses and even deaths from CRC under age 50.[3]

  • The latest screening guidelines from the American Cancer Society now recommend regular CRC screening starting at age 45 for average-risk individuals.
  • An estimated 44 million average-risk patients, ages 45 to 74 years, are eligible for screening.[4]

After noticing symptoms and screening with a colonoscopy, Julie C. was diagnosed with Stage III CRC at age 45. “If I had waited to get screened until I was 50, I don’t know what would’ve happened,” Julie said. “I feel like six years later, I’ve beaten the odds. I’m healthy again, and I’m so thankful we caught it when we did.”

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MYTH #4: There is only one way to get screened for CRC.

FACT: A number of options are available for CRC screening.

Depending on your age and risk level, there are a variety of screening options available for colorectal cancer, including a screening option called Cologuard®. It’s an effective, non-invasive stool DNA test that’s easy to take in the comfort of your own home. Cologuard is currently FDA-approved for use in eligible average-risk Americans starting at age 45. Do not use Cologuard if you have had precancer, have inflammatory bowel disease and certain hereditary syndromes, or have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer. The collection kit is delivered to your doorstep and returned to the lab for testing. It detects altered DNA and blood in the stool to find 92%† of colorectal cancers.[9]

“I think it’s important for people to realize how simple screening can be with more recent options,” explained Jamie S., who screened for colorectal cancer with Cologuard. “With the many screening options out there, there’s no excuse not to talk to your doctor!”

Find answers to your questions about Cologuard screening at

Other screening options include fecal occult blood tests which detect blood in the stool, and visual exams which include colonoscopy, flexible sigmoidoscopy and computed tomography (CT) colonography. See your doctor to discuss the best options for you.**

Cologuard performance in adults ages 45-49 is estimated based on a large clinical study of patients 50 and older. See below for additional risk information about Cologuard.

MYTH #5: It’s OK to put this off.

FACT: Regular screening is key to early detection.

Colorectal cancer is on the rise among Americans under age 50. In fact, colon cancer increased by 51% among adults younger than 50 from 1994 to 2014.[3] Regular screening is the key to early detection, and early detection can lead to better outcomes.

“Colorectal cancer is highly preventable with proper screening, yet millions of American adults are not being screened as recommended,” according to Dr. Paul Limburg, gastroenterologist and chief medical officer of the Screening Business Unit at Exact Sciences. “As a result, colon cancer remains the second leading cancer killer in the U.S.”

Now’s the time to act to protect your health. Call your doctor to arrange a screening today.

About Cologuard

Cologuard is intended to screen adults 45 years of age and older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer by detecting certain DNA markers and blood in the stool. Do not use if you have had adenomas, have inflammatory bowel disease and certain hereditary syndromes, or a personal or family history of colorectal cancer. Cologuard is not a replacement for colonoscopy in high risk patients. Cologuard performance in adults ages 45-49 is estimated based on a large clinical study of patients 50 and older.

The Cologuard test result should be interpreted with caution. A positive test result does not confirm the presence of cancer. Patients with a positive test result should be referred for diagnostic colonoscopy. A negative test result does not confirm the absence of cancer. Patients with a negative test result should discuss with their doctor when they need to be tested again. False positives and false negative results can occur. In a clinical study, 13% of people without cancer received a positive result (false positive) and 8% of people with cancer received a negative result (false negative). Rx only.


‡ Estimate based on the US population aged 45-74, adjusted for the reported rates of high-risk conditions and CRC screening.

* Based on a 5-year survival.

** A positive result in non-invasive tests requires a follow-up diagnostic colonoscopy.

[1] American Cancer Society. Key statistics for colorectal cancer. Last revised January 8, 2020. Accessed January 9, 2020.

[2] White A, Thompson TD, White MC, et al. Cancer screening test use -United States, 2015. MMWR Morbid Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66:201-206.

[3] Wolf A, Fontham E, Church TR, et al. Colorectal cancer screening for average-risk adults: 2018 guideline update from the American Cancer Society. CA Cancer J Clin. 2018;68:250-281.

[4] Piscitello A, Edwards DK. Estimating the screening-eligible population size, aged 45 to 74, at average risk to develop colorectal cancer in the United States. Cancer Prev Res. Published Online First February 6,2020.

[5] Itzkowitz SH. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2009;101(18):1225-1227.

[6] Siegel RL, Miller KD, Jemal A. Cancer statistics, 2020. CA Cancer J Clin. 2020;0:1-24.

[7] American Cancer Society. Survival rates for colorectal cancer. Accessed February 10, 2020.

[8] Patel SG, Ahnen DJ. Familial colon cancer syndromes: an update of a rapidly evolving field. Curr Gastroenterol Rep. 2012;14(5):428-438.

[9] Imperiale TF, Ransohoff DF, Itzkowitz SH, et al. Multitarget stool DNA testing for colorectal-cancer screening. N Engl J Med. 2014;370(14):1287-1297.