Doctor’s Appointment Guide

Your health matters. Taking proactive steps can make all the difference.

Discussing colorectal cancer screening with your doctor is a significant step in that journey. We have designed this guide to help you initiate conversations with your healthcare provider about colorectal cancer screening during your appointment.

In the early stages, colorectal cancer usually has no symptoms. That’s why it’s best to get screened for colorectal cancer before any symptoms start to develop.1

Detecting colorectal cancer early can help save lives.

1. Go Prepared

Before your appointment, take some time to gather important information:

  • Family history: Note if any family members have had colorectal cancer.

  • Lifestyle factors: Be ready to discuss your diet, exercise routine, and any tobacco or alcohol use.

2. Questions to Ask

Think of the kind of questions you’d like to ask your doctor and pen them down in a notebook or on your phone’s notepad.

  • What are the screening methods available?
    Inquire about current screening tests such as blood-based tests, stool-based tests or colonoscopy.

  • How often should I get screened?
    Discuss the recommended screening intervals based on your risk profile.

  • What are the benefits and risks of screening?
    Understand how early detection can improve outcomes and inquire about potential risks, such as false positives.

  • What does the screening process involve?
    Seek a clear explanation of what to expect during the screening, any necessary preparations, and the duration of the procedure.

3. Be Honest

  • Don’t be afraid to share about your lifestyle, habits, or any problems you’re having.
    Only you know yourself best. Having open communication with your doctor is one of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of your doctor’s visit.

  • Share your concerns.
    Express any worries or fears you may have about the screening process openly. Your doctor can provide reassurance and address any misconceptions.

4. Personalise your approach

  • If you have specific preferences or concerns about colorectal cancer screening, let your doctor know. Together, you can make choices that align with your values and comfort.

5. Seek Support

  • Consider bringing a supportive friend or family member to the appointment to offer encouragement and help remember important details.


1. Do I Have Colorectal Cancer? Signs, Symptoms and Work-Up. American Cancer Society. February 2021. Last Accessed Sep 2023.

Talking To Loved Ones Guide

Know of a friend or loved one who is due for a colorectal cancer screening?

We know it is hard to start the conversation, but you might be playing a pivotal role in helping to protect a loved one’s health. Follow these tips to help you begin talking about colorectal cancer screening with someone you care about.

1. Understand their risk

  • Determine if your friend or loved one meets the colorectal cancer screening criteria.

2. Choose the right moment

  • Find a comfortable and relaxed setting where you can talk openly without distractions or time constraints.

3. Begin with care and empathy

  • Start by letting your loved one know that you are having this conversation because you care deeply about their well-being. They matter to you.

4. Share the benefits and ease of screening

  • Emphasise that colorectal cancer is often treatable when detected early and screenings play a vital role in catching it before it becomes a more serious issue. Also, provide available screening options they can consider such as blood-based tests, stool-based tests or colonoscopy.

5. Let the information sink in

  • There may be a lot of information to process and your loved one needs time to mull over it before they come to a decision. After a few months, you may want to check in on them to see where they’re at. Let them know you are there to support them throughout the entire process.

6. Accompany the patient during screening and doctor visit

  • Be there with your loved one for support when they go for their screening or to get the result of their screening.

Initiating a conversation about colorectal cancer screening with your friend or loved one is an act of genuine care and support. By discussing about the topic, you can encourage them to take proactive steps toward better health. Remember, the most important thing is letting them know that you’re there for them, no matter what they decide. Your support can make a significant difference in their health journey.

Terminology Guide

Terminology Meaning
Adenocarcinoma A type of cancer that begins in the gland cells, which are cells that produce mucus to lubricate and protect the inside of the colon and rectum.1
Adenoma A type of polyp made up of tissue that looks a lot like the normal inner lining of the colon or rectum, although it is different in some important ways when looked at under a microscope. There are different types of adenomas, which are often described based on their growth patterns.2
Adjuvant therapy Treatment given after the main treatment to reduce the chance of cancer coming back by destroying any remaining cancer cells. It usually refers to chemotherapy, radiation therapy, hormone therapy, and/or immunotherapy given after surgery.3
Asymptomatic When a condition is present but there are no noticeable symptoms.
Biomarker A biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. A biomarker may be used to see how well the body responds to a treatment for a disease or condition. Also called molecular marker and signature molecule.4
Biopsy The process of extracting and analysing tissue to determine if it contains cancer cells.4
Chemotherapy A medication approach employing potent chemicals to eliminate rapidly dividing cells within your body.5
Colectomy surgery A surgical procedure where all or part of the colon is removed.4
Colitis A disease caused by inflammation of the lining of the colon.6
Colonoscopy A medical technique used by a physician to examine the colon and rectum.7
Colorectal cancer Colorectal cancer is cancer that develops in the tissues of the colon or rectum.8
Colostomy A surgical procedure that brings one end of the large intestine out through an opening (stoma) made in the abdominal wall. Stools moving through the intestine drain through the stoma into a bag attached to the skin of the abdomen.9
Crohn’s A persistent condition leading to inflammation and irritation within your digestive tract.10
CT Colonography A method utilising specialised x-ray equipment to analyse the colon and rectum for cancer and formations known as polyps.11
ctDNA Circulating tumour DNA (ctDNA) is present in the blood and originates from cancerous cells and tumours. While the majority of DNA is located within a cell’s nucleus, ctDNA is an exception, circulating freely in the bloodstream.12
DNA DNA, which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, serves as the genetic material in humans and virtually all other living organisms. Practically every cell in an individual’s body contains identical DNA
DNA Methylation DNA methylation refers to a major epigenetic mechanism involving direct chemical modification to the DNA.13
Endoscopy A medical procedure where a physician introduces a tube-like instrument into the body to look inside.14
Enema The process of introducing a liquid into the rectum and colon with the aim of inducing a bowel movement.4
Faecal Occult Blood Testing A Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT) examines a stool sample to detect the presence of blood.15
Gene A gene is typically described as a DNA sequence with a specific function, referring to a group of similar DNA sequences contributing to a particular molecular role, such as the creation of ABO red blood cell antigens.
Genetic counselling Genetic counseling provides insights into how genetic conditions could impact you or your family.
Immunotherapy Therapy that harnesses an individual’s immune system to combat cancer.16
Liquid Biopsy A blood test that identifies cancerous tumours.
Lymph Nodes Small structures resembling beans distributed throughout the body, which form a component of the immune system and aid in defending the body against infections by generating white blood cells, specifically lymphocytes.4
Lynch Syndrome An inherited condition that greatly increases one’s risk for developing colorectal cancer.4
Malignant Cancerous
Polypectomy The surgical removal of a polyp.4
Polyps Polyps are noncancerous growths (benign tumours or neoplasms) that develop in the lining of the bowel.
Progression In the field of medicine, the progression of a disease, like cancer, refers to its advancement and deterioration as it spreads throughout the body.
Recurrent The reappearance of a medical condition following a period of remission.
Resection The surgical process of eliminating diseased tissue, along with a portion of surrounding healthy tissue and nearby lymph nodes, is known as resection. Radical resection encompasses this procedure and includes the removal of blood vessels supplying the area. The extent of the resection may vary, being partial or limited based on the disease’s severity.4
Screening In the field of medicine, screening is a technique employed to identify unnoticed health conditions or indicators of risk.
Sigmoidoscopy A diagnostic examination employed to assess the sigmoid colon, situated in the lower segment of the colon or large intestine.17
Stool DNA Tests A stool DNA test detects cells within a sample of stool.
Tumour A cohesive accumulation of abnormal cells that results in the formation of a solid tissue mass.
Tumour marker Tumour markers encompass substances present in your body that offer insights into specific cancer types. These markers could involve proteins overproduced by certain cancer cells or alterations in DNA patterns. By leveraging tumour markers, healthcare professionals can facilitate the diagnosis and gain a deeper understanding of particular cancer varieties.18


All images are actor portrayals only.

This is an educational website on cancer screening. This information should not be used in place of advice from your doctor or healthcare professional. For further information and advice, please contact your doctor.


1. Your Colon or Rectal Pathology Report: Invasive Adenocarcinoma. American Cancer Society. July 2023. Last Accessed September 2023. 2. Your Colon or Rectal Pathology Report: Polyps (Including Serrated Adenomas). American Cancer Society. July 2023. Last Accessed September 2023. 3. Adjuvant therapy. 2023. Last Accessed September 2023. 4. Glossary of terms. Colorectal Cancer Alliance. 2023. Last Accessed Sep 2023. 5. Chemotherapy. Mayo Clinic. March 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 6. Colitis. Cleveland Clinic. June 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 7. Colonoscopy. Mayo Clinic. May 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 8. Colorectal Cancer. Medicine Plus. December 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 9. Colostomy. Medicine Plus. December 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 10. Crohn’s disease. Mayo Clinic. August 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 11. CT colonography. Cancer Research UK. August 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 12. What is circulating tumor DNA and how is it used to diagnose and manage cancer? Medline Plus. July 2021. Last Accessed Sep 2023. 13. Moore LD, et al. DNA Methylation and Its Basic Function. Neuropsychopharmacology. Volume 38, pages23–38 (2013). 14. Endoscopy. American Cancer Society. 2023. Last Accessed September 2023. 15. Fecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT). Medline Plus. May 2022. Last accessed August 2023. 16. Immunotherapy. American Cancer Society. Dec 2019. Last accessed August 2023. 17. Sigmoidoscopy. March 2020. Last accessed August 2023. 18. Tumor Markers. Cleveland Clinic. March 2023. Last Accessed Sep 2023.

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