A colonoscopy can prevent colorectal cancer in more than one way.

In Delaware and the U.S., colorectal cancer is the third-most commonly diagnosed cancer in men and women, and the third-most common cause of cancer death.

Almost all colon cancers can be prevented through early screening. A colonoscopy is a painless screening that can not only find polyps that can lead to cancer, but also remove them on the spot.

Who should be screened and how often.

Beginning at age 50, both men and women should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. If there is a history of cancer in your family or if prior colonoscopies have resulted in the removal of polyps, you should be screened more often.

You are at a greater risk for colon cancer if you:

  • Eat a diet high in red and processed meats
  • Are obese
  • Smoke
  • Are considered a heavy alcohol user
  • Have Type 2 diabetes
  • Are age 50 or older
  • Are African-American
  • Have a history of colorectal adenomatous polyps
  • Have a history of colon cancer
  • Have a history of inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease

Younger people are being diagnosed with colon cancer.

  • One in six people who are diagnosed with colon cancer is younger than 50, and some are as young as 20.
  • Most ignored their symptoms and were diagnosed at a late stage, when cancer is difficult to treat.
  • The number of younger people being diagnosed with colon cancer is expected to dramatically increase in the next 10 years.

You have a greater risk of being diagnosed at a younger age if you:

  • Have a close relative who was diagnosed with colon cancer
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease
  • Have been diagnosed with Lynch syndrome
  • Are African-American
  • Have diabetes
  • Are obese (20 or more pounds overweight)
  • Drink more sweetened beverages and less milk
  • Eat processed meats

Symptoms that could indicate you have colon cancer:

  • Unexplained rectal bleeding
  • Blood in the stool
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Recent and persistent change in bowel habits
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement, that doesn’t go away

Even with no family history of colon cancer, if you have two or more symptoms, you should talk with your health care provider about getting screened for colon cancer.


We offer help for screening and cancer treatment.

If you don’t have insurance or can’t afford a colonoscopy, there is a program that could provide the screening for you.

If you should be diagnosed with colon cancer and you can’t afford treatment, the Delaware Cancer Treatment Program provides free cancer treatment for up to two years. Cancer Care Coordinators help guide you through treatment, scheduling visits with health care providers and making sure you get the care you need.


Stay informed — check out this downloadable PDF for more information about colon cancer.


A nurse navigator can schedule a cancer screening for you.

Hospitals statewide have nurse navigators who can schedule your cancer screening and provide follow-up help — whether you have health insurance or not. Use this form to request a callback, or call the nurse navigator at the facility closest to you.

Request a call:

We need your ZIP code so that we can send your request to the nurse navigator closest to you.


If you would like to speak directly to a nurse navigator, you can call the facility closest to you from the list below.

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Cancer is tough to spot. Knowing the symptoms can save your life.

Research shows that more Delawareans under age 50 are being diagnosed with colorectal cancer. And in the U.S., 86 percent were found to have an advanced stage of this disease. Because of their age, younger patients who have symptoms are often misdiagnosed initially. Don’t ignore the signs.

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