Colonoscopy - Women Veterans Health Care
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A colonoscopy is one of several screening tests for colon cancer the VA offers. According to the CDC, millions of people in the United States are not getting screened as recommended. Because colonoscopy allows for the removal of benign polyps that cause cancer, colonoscopy screening can reduce your risk of developing cancer. A colonoscopy can also help find cancer early when the treatment may work the best. Based on current recommendations, you should start colorectal cancer screening at age forty-five, but your doctor may recommend you start earlier if you have a family history. You should discuss your risk for colon cancer with your Women's Health Primary Care Provider to determine when to screen and the best test for you.

The risk of getting colon cancer increases as you get older. Many people do not have symptoms from colon cancer until the later stages of cancer. These symptoms include:

  • Blood in stool; or black or dark brown stool
  • Change in bowel habits such as diarrhea or constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abdominal pain and bloating

If you experience any of the above symptoms talk to your Women's Health Primary Care Provider right away as these may be a sign of one of many disorders, including colon cancer.

What services does VA provide for colon cancer screening?

VA offers a variety of tests to screen for colon cancer, including colonoscopies. A colonoscopy may detect and remove abnormalities (called polyps) at an early stage before they progress into cancer. You will be able to get your colonoscopy at your local VA medical center or a health care facility in your community.

How do I access services for colon cancer screening at VA?

If you have a primary care provider at VA, talk to them about your risk, the appropriate timing to get screened, and the best available test to screen for colon cancer.

If you have questions or can't find what you're looking for, you can call, text, or chat online with the Women Veterans Call Center (WVCC) at 855-829-6636 to get help and find available resources and services in your area. Trained women representatives can also help you with issues such as:

WVCC representatives are available Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. ET, and Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. ET.

Where can I find more information, help and resources on colonoscopy?

  • To find more information about colonoscopy, visit the CDC website here*.
  • Learn more about different types of VA women's health services and cancer screenings.
  • Visit the Veterans Health Library to learn more about colonoscopy.

* By clicking on these links, you will leave the Department of Veterans Affairs Web site. VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked Web site.