Women Veterans Health Care
According to the CDC, millions of people in the United States are not getting screened as recommended. *
VA recommends a "FIT FIRST" strategy as the use of Fecal Immunochemical Test (FIT) should be the preferred method of screening persons at average risk for colorectal cancer. Colon cancer screenings can reduce your risk of developing cancer and can help find cancer early when the treatment may work the best. Based on current recommendations, you should start colorectal cancer screening at age 45, but your doctor may recommend you start earlier if you have a family history. You should discuss your risk for colon cancer with your 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
- Unexplained weight loss
- Abdominal pain and bloating
If you experience any of the above symptoms, talk to your primary care provider right away as these may be signs 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 Fecal Immunochemical Tests (FIT) and colonoscopies. FIT is a colon cancer screening test that looks for microscopic blood in the stool and can be completed in the comfort of your own home. 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 time to get screened, and the best available test to screen for colon cancer.
If you don't already use VA health care, you you may want to use the following online tools:
Find out if you are eligible for VA health care.
Enroll in VA health care if you haven't already.
Find your local VA and make an appointment.
The Women Veterans Call Center is your guide to women's health
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:
- Enrolling in VA health care if you have not already
- Setting up a medical appointment in your area
- Answering questions about eligibility (including questions about disability ratings) and other VA benefits like employment, education, and home loans
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. *
- 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 website.
† VA does not endorse and is not responsible for the content of the linked website.