Colon cancer (also called colorectal cancer) is the second-leading cause of cancer death in New York City, after lung cancer. It is most often found in people aged 45 and older.
Each year in NYC, about 1,200 adults die from colon cancer and more than 3,500 New Yorkers are newly diagnosed. Colon cancer affects men and women of all racial and ethnic groups. In 2017, Black and White New Yorkers had a higher death rate (13.8 and 12.6 deaths per 100,000 people, respectively) than Latinos (10.3) and Asian/Pacific Islanders (8.9).
You are more likely to get colon cancer if you:
Know your risk factors and, where possible, try to address them.
To lower your risk of colon cancer:
Routine screenings can prevent colon cancer or help find it early, when it is easier to treat. There are several different types of screenings. Ask your provider about which of the below options might be right for you.
A colonoscopy involves a small tube with a camera being put inside your colon and rectum. It requires a special diet the day before and medication to clean out the colon. A colonoscopy can both detect cancer and remove polyps — small growths that may develop into cancer if left alone. A colonoscopy has a low risk for complications and is usually painless.
Stool-based tests can be done at home by collecting a stool (feces) sample using a test kit and sending the kit to a lab. This test requires little or no preparation and has no health risk. If the result is abnormal, you will need a follow-up colonoscopy.
Steps to take for colon cancer screening:
Most insurance plans, including Medicaid and Medicare, cover colon cancer screenings starting at age 50. If you are between ages 45 and 49, coverage for screening varies. Consult with your health care provider about your colon cancer risk and with your insurer about your coverage before your screening test.
If you cannot get insurance, or if your insurance does not cover screening, you have options. Call 311 to be connected to a New York City Health + Hospitals location and find out if you qualify for low-cost or no-cost colon cancer screening. You can also contact the New York State Cancer Services Program, which provides colon cancer screening to uninsured New Yorkers ages 50 to 75.
Learn about colon cancer prevention with the graphic novella, Choosing a Colon Cancer Screening Test: Mark's Decision. Read how Mark chooses between an at-home stool test and a colonoscopy, and how Mark and his family take steps to lower their risk of colon cancer.
Learn how to get ready for a colonoscopy with the graphic novella, Preparing for a Colonoscopy: Sandra’s Story. Read how Sandra prepares for a colonoscopy by consuming a liquid diet, avoiding opaque liquids and arranging for someone to pick her up after the surgery.