Diagnosis and Screening
Colon and rectal cancers can be detected early using the screening tests discussed below. These tests can find precancerous polyps and colorectal cancers at stages early enough for complete removal and cure.
Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
The American Cancer Society (ACS), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) all have made recommendations concerning screening for colorectal cancer.
These organizations recommend very similar test options and schedules. Discuss with your doctor which test is most appropriate for you. (See descriptions of screening tests below for more information about the individual tests.)
Screening for adults with average risk for colorectal cancer. Screening should begin at age 50 years and older. (Note: The ACG recommends African-American men begin at age 45.) Only the USPTF addresses when screening can stop. The USPTF does not recommend routine screening for adults ages 76 - 85 years old who have had negative screenings since age 50. They do not recommend any screening in people over age 85.
Several options and schedules for screening are recommended. The choices include:
Review Date: 10/21/2010
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.