Colorectal cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death in the United States when men and women are combined. However, regular screening can find colorectal cancer when it is small, hasn’t spread, and might be easier to treat. Some types of screening can also help find and remove pre-cancerous growths called polyps before they have a chance to turn into cancer.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) has guidelines for colorectal cancer screening and recommends people at average risk for colorectal cancer begin screening at age 45. In the most recent guideline update, ACS lowered the age to start screening because studies show rates of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 are on the rise. ACS experts have determined that screening starting at 45 could help save more lives.
Screening recommendations for those at average risk for colorectal cancer
Screening for people at higher risk for colorectal cancer
People at higher risk for colorectal cancer may need to start screening before age 45. They may also need to be screened more often or get specific tests. People at higher risk are those with
People who think or know they are at higher risk for colorectal cancer should talk to their health care provider. Your health care provider can help you choose your best screening option and schedule.
If you’ve delayed your screening appointments or they have been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, talk to your doctor about the steps you can take to safely resume these important tests.
Recommended colorectal cancer screening tests
There are several test options for colorectal cancer screening. There are some differences among the tests. But the most important thing is to get screened, no matter which test you choose.
It’s important that everyone talk to their health care provider about which tests might be good options. You should also check your insurance about payment for each test option.
These screening tests must be done at recommended time points to be effective. If you choose a test other than a colonoscopy, any abnormal test result must be followed up with a colonoscopy to see whether you have cancer.
How to find more information
The American Cancer Society medical and editorial content team
Our team is made up of doctors and oncology certified nurses with deep knowledge of cancer care as well as journalists, editors, and translators with extensive experience in medical writing.
Colorectal Cancer Screening for Average-Risk Adults: 2018 Guideline Update from the American Cancer Society. Published May 30, 2018 in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. First author Andrew M.D. Wolf, MD. University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, Va.
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