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What are the risks associated with colon cancer screening?

Each colon cancer screening method has benefits and potential risks. For example, fecal occult blood testing is noninvasive and inexpensive but may not pick up early or precancerous lesions and may yield false-positive test results.

Colonoscopy is very accurate in finding both cancers and pre-malignant polyps but carries some risk, especially in older adults, and the preparation is cumbersome for most people.

The risks associated with colon cancer screening vary based upon the test performed. For example, the risks of colonoscopy include an adverse reaction to the sedative used for the procedure, bleeding from any biopsy performed and a tear in the colon. These complications are rare, however.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.