By learning more about the most advanced screening,

diagnostics and treatment options for colorectal cancers, patients can overcome fear—the number one obstacle that prevents individuals from seeking early care.

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Screening guidelines for colorectal cancer

Those at an increased or high risk of colorectal cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening before age 50 and/or be screened more often. The following conditions are considered to be higher than average risk:

Tests that find polyps and cancer

  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years∗
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years∗
  • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years∗

Tests that mainly find cancer

  • Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every year∗,∗∗
  • Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year∗,∗∗
  • Stool DNA test (sDNA), interval uncertain∗

Those at an increased or high risk of colorectal cancer should begin colorectal cancer screening before age 50 and/or be screened more often. The following conditions a considered to be higher than average risk:

  • A personal history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps
  • A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
  • A strong family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer (HNPCC)

A full table of guidelines for people with increased risk, high risk and multiple risk factors is available online as part of the American Cancer Society recommendations for colorectal cancer early detection.

∗Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
∗∗For FOBT or FIT used as a screening test, the take-home multiple sample method should be used. An FOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor’s office is not adequate for screening.

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