Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Rectal Cancer

  • Michael Jubinville, MPH
Publication Type:


Rectal Cancer



The purpose of these tests is to find and treat cancer early. Common screening options are:

  • Colonoscopy—every 10 years
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)—every year
  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)—every year
  • Sigmoidoscopy—every 5-10 years
  • CT colonography—every 5 years
  • Barium enema—every 5 years
  • Stool DNA test every 3 years

Talk to the doctor about testing after age 40 if you are Black, Asian, or a native of Alaska.

Talk to the doctor about how often you should be tested if you have:

  • People in your family with:
    • Colon or rectal cancer, or polyps
    • Inherited diseases of the colon or rectum
  • Had colon or rectal cancer, or polyps
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases

Lifestyle Changes

To help lower the risk of colon cancer:

  • Quit smoking—ask the doctor about programs that help
  • Eat a well-balanced, healthful diet.
  • Get at least 30 minutes of activity a day on most days of the week.
  • Alcohol—Do not drink more than 2 drinks a day if you are a man or more than 1 a day if you are a woman.
  • Keep a healthy weight.




  • Colorectal cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer.html.
  • Colorectal cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/condition/colorectal-cancer.
  • Colorectal cancer screening. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/prevention/colorectal-cancer-screening.
  • Colorectal cancer screening tests. American Cancer Society website. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/screening-tests-used.html.
  • General information about rectal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: https://www.cancer.gov/types/colorectal/patient/rectal-treatment-pdq.
  • Moreno C, Kim DH, Bartel TB, et al. Colorectal cancer screening. American College of Radiology (ACR) Appropriateness Criteria. Available at: https://acsearch.acr.org/docs/69469/Narrative. Updated 2018.


  • Mohei Abouzied, MD, FACP
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.