Screen for Life Screen for Life
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Jimmy Smits, award-winning actor and Screen for Life spokesperson: “I got screened. Now it’s your turn.”

If you’re 50 or older, getting a screening test for colorectal cancer could save your life. Here’s how:

Colorectal cancer screening tests can find precancerous polyps so they can be removed before they turn into cancer.

• Screening tests also can find colorectal cancer early. When it is found early, the chance of being cured is good.

• More than a third of deaths from colorectal cancer could be avoided if people over 50 had screening tests routinely.

Polyps and colorectal cancer may not cause symptoms, especially at first.

• Someone could have polyps or colorectal cancer and not know it. That is why having a screening test is so important.

• Symptoms may include

• rectal bleeding

• abdominal discomfort/pain

• bloating

• a change in bowel habits

• iron deficiency anemia and

• unexplained weight loss

These symptoms may be caused by many things. The only way to know what is causing them is to see your doctor.

Both men and women are at risk. Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the United States, affecting both men and women, especially those over age 50. Risk increases with advancing age.

Many insurance plans and Medicare help pay for colorectal cancer screening. Check with your plan to find out which tests are covered for you. To find out about Medicare coverage, call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) or visit

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer killer in the U.S. In 2003 (the most recent year for which statistics are currently available):

• 73,182 men and 70,763 women were diagnosed with colorectal cancer

• 27,990 men and 27,793 women died from colorectal cancer

The bottom line: If you’re 50 or older, talk with your doctor about getting screened. For more information about colorectal cancer or any other cancer, call CDC-INFO at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).