By Lt. Cesar Mojica Vazquez, M.D.

Family Medicine Chief Resident Physician,
Naval Hospital Jacksonville

Screening for colon cancer helps save lives.  It's never too early to talk with your primary care manager about colon cancer screening and testing.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer worldwide.  Despite a reduction in incidence over the years, it's still the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the U.S.

Cancer is characterized by an uncontrolled growth of cells beyond their usual boundaries that can invade adjoining parts of the body and spread to other organs.  

Colorectal cancer screening should begin at age 50 for average-risk people, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.  If you have risk factors (like a fist-degree relative with colorectal cancer), you might need to be tested earlier or more often.   

Colonoscopy is the preferred method for screening (every 10 years).  Colonoscopy uses a long, thin, flexible, lighted tube to check for polyps or cancer inside the rectum and the entire colon.  It can also be used for treatment (allowing for the removal of benign polyps).

Other methods include: occult blood testing (yearly), flexible sigmoidoscopy (every five years), and CT colonography (every five years).

Test results can take two to four weeks or more.  

Make an appointment with your PCM by phone (904-542-4677 at our hospital, or 904-546-7094 at Branch Health Clinic Jacksonville for active duty), or at TRICARE's Online Patient Portal at   

For 24/7 clinical advice, call the Nurse Advice Line at 800-TRICARE (800-874-2273).

For secure email messaging with your care team (for non-urgent issues), sign up for free at  

To view your care team's PCMs, visit our website at, click on Medical Home Port, and click on each team.