On your 50th birthday, you'll get a present from your doctor -- a referral for a colon cancer screening, preferably by colonoscopy.
Most people don't get colon cancer before they're 60. Although colon cancer is deadly, it takes about a decade for colon polyps to turn into cancer (if they do -- most polyps never become cancers). Removal of polyps prevents colon cancer, so doctors start looking for polyps when a person turns 50.
Your primary care physician will refer you to a gastroenterologist for your colon cancer screening, known as a colonoscopy. Generally, a colonoscopy is done as an out-patient procedure. New technology and the use of Propofol for moderate sedation have made a colonoscopy a relatively pain-free experience, which enables you to go back to your daily routine quickly.