Colorectal Cancer: Are You at Risk?

Take this quick quiz to find out why, when, and where you should be screened for this common cancer.

  1. Colorectal cancer can often be prevented.

    ☐ True ☐ False

  1. Colorectal cancer is a problem only for older people.

    ☐ True ☐ False

  1. If I have no symptoms, I don’t need to get screened.

    ☐ True ☐ False

  1. Colonoscopy is the only test used to screen for colorectal cancer in people who have no symptoms of it.

    ☐ True ☐ False

  1. Early detection leads to a high survival rate.

    ☐ True ☐ False

1. TRUE. Regular colorectal cancer screening can find abnormal colon growths called polyps so they can be removed before they develop into cancer. You can also lower your risk with regular physical activity, by maintaining a healthy weight and by eating a nutritious diet with minimal sugar and processed foods.

2. FALSE. While the disease most commonly appears after age 50, a recent analysis found that the rate of colon and rectal cancers has been steadily increasing in people under age 50. If you are at high risk based on family history or other factors, you may need to start screening earlier. Talk with your doctor.

3. FALSE. Many people with early-stage colorectal cancer don’t have symptoms. If you do have the following symptoms, check with your doctor. The cause could be one of a number of things besides cancer, but you will want to find out what it is so it can be treated:

  • A change in bowel habits that lasts for more than a few days
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement that’s not relieved by doing so
  • Rectal bleeding, dark stools, or blood in the stool
  • Cramping or belly pain
  • Weakness and extreme tiredness that doesn’t get better with rest
  • Unintended weight loss

4. FALSE. Tests can be divided into two groups: stool tests, which check the stool (feces) for signs of cancer, and visual (structural) exams, which look at the structure inside of the colon and rectum. Besides colonoscopy, visual exams include CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) and flexible sigmoidoscopy.

5. TRUE. American Cancer Society statistics show that the five-year survival rate for people with localized colon or rectal cancer is about 90 percent. In addition, treatments and therapies continue to improve over time.

Colonoscopy Is the Gold Standard for Screening

Julie Cabaleiro, MD
Julie Cabaleiro, MD

Colorectal cancer begins in the colon or rectum, which are both parts of the large intestine.

“We use a small, flexible tube with a light and a small video camera on the end to look inside the colon and rectum,” says gastroenterologist Julie Cabaleiro, MD, Medical Staff President at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center. “Polyps—small clumps of cells on the lining of the colon—which may later turn into cancer, can be detected and even removed during the procedure.”


Schedule your colon screening at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center by calling (973) 926-7732 or (973) 926-8346.

RWJBarnabas Health and the Frederick B. Cohen, MD, Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorders Center at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, together with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey—the state’s only NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Center—provide close-to-home access to the latest treatment options. For more information, call 844.CANCERNJ (844-226-2376) our Cancer Services page.