Colorectal (Colon) Cancer: What You Need to Know

Although adults with cystic fibrosis are at a significantly higher risk of developing colorectal cancer than the general population, colonoscopy screening is an effective way to prevent and treat colorectal cancer by helping to detect and remove polyps. People with CF should be screened starting at age 40 (or 30 for those who have had a transplant). Find out how early screening can help reduce the risk.

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If you have CF, you are at higher risk for colon cancer. Here’s what you need to know: 

  1. You need to get screened younger. 
    CF clinical care guidelines recommend that people with CF begin screening at age 40
    If you’ve had a transplant, you are at additional risk of developing colorectal cancer. So, transplant recipients should start screening at age 30.

  2. You need to have a colonoscopy — not an at-home test. 
    A colonoscopy is the only preventive screening known to be effective for people with I CF. If any polyps are found , they can be removed right away, before they become cancer or — if they are cancerous — when it’s at its earliest and most treatable stage. 
    Although they are less invasive than colonoscopies, at-home stool-based tests like Cologuard® or FIT have not been studied on people with CF and they are not recommended for anyone who is at high risk.

  3. You need to prep for the colonoscopy differently from a person who doesn’t have CF. 
    The thick, sticky intestinal mucus that people with CF tend to have makes it more difficult to clean out your colon, so your bowel preparation will be more intensive.

Nobody knows your body better than you. Listen to your body for symptoms and talk to your care team when something doesn’t feel right. 

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