Your doctor examines your colon
using a thin, flexible tube called a colonoscope to look for ulcers, polyps, tumors and areas of inflammation or bleeding. The test is your best defense against colon cancer, the third most common cancer in both men and women. While there are other screening tools, including sigmoidoscopy and fecal blood tests, colonoscopy is considered the gold standard: “It doesn’t just diagnose; if the doctor sees adenomas (potentially precancerous polyps), he can remove them then and there,” says Seth Gross, MD, director of endoscopy at Tisch Hospital at NYU Langone Medical Center.
When to get it: Your first should happen at age 50, earlier if you’ve got other risk factors, such as a family history, or if you have suspicious symptoms like blood in your stool. If the test is negative, continue getting one every 10 years.
Cost: $1,100 to $2,800. Insurance pays for the procedure every 10 years for adults age 50 to 75.