Some expert groups generally advise that people at average risk for colorectal cancer start screening at age 50. But the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommends starting screening at age 45. This is because of an increase of colorectal cancer in people younger than age 50. How often you need these screening tests depends on which test you have.
For those who are age 45 and of average risk for colorectal cancer, the ACS recommends:
- A flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or
- A colonoscopy every 10 years, or
- A CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years, or
- A fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
- A stool DNA test every 3 years
Regular colorectal cancer screening for those at average risk continues through the age 75 for people in good health and a life expectancy of 10 years or more. For people ages 76 to 85, talk with your healthcare provider about continued screening. ACS does not advise screening for persons older than 85.
Some people are at higher risk for colorectal cancer based on a personal or family history of colorectal cancer. They may also be at higher risk because of polyps or certain inherited syndromes. These include familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer, HNPCC), and inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn's or ulcerative colitis. They might need to start screening at a younger age, and to be screened more often than normal.
Not all expert group recommendations are the same . They may vary. But it's important to know your risk. Talk with your provider about your risk for colorectal cancer. .