What Is Colorectal Cancer Screening?
Colorectal cancer almost always develops from precancerous polyps (abnormal tissue growths) in the colon or rectum. Screening tests can find precancerous polyps so that they can be removed prior to becoming cancer. Screening tests can also find colorectal cancer in an early stage, when treatment works best.
- If you are 45 to 75 years old, you should get your screening for colorectal cancer.
- Many people are not getting screened as recommended so they may the opportunity to prevent colorectal cancer or to find it at an early stage, when treatment works best.
- If it is possible you may be at an increased risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your doctor about when to begin screening, which testing would be best for you, and how often to get tested.
- The Task Force recommends several different colorectal cancer screening strategies, including stool tests, flexible sigmoidoscopy, colonoscopy, and CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy). Learn about these screening tests.
When Should I Begin to Get Screened?
Most people should begin screening for colorectal cancer after turning 45, then continue getting screened at regular intervals. However, you may need to be tested earlier than 45, or more often if you fall into one of these categories:
- You or a close relative have had colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer.
- You have an inflammatory bowel disease such as Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
- You have a genetic syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (Lynch syndrome).
If you think you are at a greater risk for colorectal cancer, speak with your physician about —
- What age to begin screening?
- Which screening test is right for you?
- How often should get tested?