Colorectal Cancer screening kit with Colon Cancer Awareness blue ribbon.

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in the United States, and it’s estimated that in 2024, there will be 150,000 new cases of CRC and 50,000 deaths. However, preventive screenings can reduce colorectal cancer mortality by detecting disease early when it is most curable. In fact, 65% of all CRC deaths can be attributed to a lack of screening. With the philosophy that prevention is the best medicine, Island Health offers several types of CRC screenings to help reduce the impact of colon cancer in our community.(1)

There are different colon cancer screenings that can be done:

  • FIT Kit – Test at home for hidden blood in stool with a FIT (fecal immunochemical test) kit. This screening can be performed annually and does not require any special preparation. Established patients can pick up FIT kits anytime at Island Walk-In Clinic – M Avenue or Island Primary Care – Orcas, or at Colon Care Day on March 27.
  • FIT-DNA (Cologuard®) – Detect altered DNA associated with CRC cancer in stool with a FIT-DNA test, also known as Cologuard®. It is done once every three years.
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy – A doctor can perform a flexible sigmoidoscopy procedure to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum. This screening is conducted every five years, or 10 years with an annual FIT.
  • Colonoscopy – A colonoscopy is similar to a flexible sigmoidoscopy, except the surgeon checks for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon. The surgeon can find and remove most polyps and some cancers during the test. Colonoscopies are also used as a follow-up test if anything unusual is found during one of the other screening tests and are performed every 10 years. While most polyps are not cancerous, nearly all CRC develops from polyps.

The incidence of CRC in individuals younger than 50 has been increasing since 2000 for unclear reasons, which is why the recommended age to begin CRC screenings is now 45. Reduce the risk of developing CRC with preventive screenings and healthy lifestyle practices—maintain a healthy body weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, and get sufficient vitamin D.

Over 45? Consult with Island Surgeons through a Screening Colonoscopy Assessment. This is a 15-minute phone appointment where a colonoscopy coordinator will:

  • Confirm your insurance information
  • Ask a few health questions
  • Answer your questions about the procedure
  • Schedule a date for your colonoscopy, if applicable.

As a public hospital district, Island Health is proud to offer regular CRC screenings as a proactive step toward a healthier community. To schedule your screening colonoscopy 15-minute phone assessment, call 360.293.5142.


1. NCCN Guidelines for Patients® Colorectal Cancer Screening, 2021

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