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Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

AMERICAN CANCER SOCIETY
SCREENING GUIDELINES

People at average risk
The American Cancer Society believes that preventing colorectal cancer (and not just finding it early) should be a major reason for getting tested. Having polyps found and removed keeps some people from getting colorectal cancer. Tests that have the best chance of finding both polyps and cancer are preferred if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have them.

Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below:

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
Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year*,**
Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
Stool DNA test every 3 years*

* Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
** Highly sensitive versions of these tests should be used with the take-home multiple sample method. A gFOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor’s office is not enough for screening.

UNITED STATES PREVENTIVE SERVICES TASK FORCE
SCREENING GUIDELINES

Population Recommendation
Adults aged 50 to 75 years The USPSTF recommends screening for colorectal cancer starting at age 50 years and continuing until age 75 years.
Adults aged 76 to 85 years The decision to screen for colorectal cancer in adults aged 76 to 85 years should be an individual one, taking into account the patient’s overall health and prior screening history.

  • Adults in this age group who have never been screened for colorectal cancer are more likely to benefit.
  • Screening would be most appropriate among adults who 1) are healthy enough to undergo treatment if colorectal cancer is detected and 2) do not have comorbid conditions that would significantly limit their life expectancy.
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