For people at an average risk for colorectal (colon) cancer
The American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), and the American College of Gastroenterologists (ACG) recommend routine testing for people age 50 and older who have a normal risk for colon cancer. People with a higher risk, such as African Americans and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, may need to be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.
Stool test,* such as the fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), or the stool DNA test (sDNA)
Every year for FOBT and FIT
Every 5 years for sDNA
Every 5 years
Every 10 years
Computed tomographic colonography (CTC), also called a virtual colonoscopy
Every 5 years
*Others recommend combining a stool test with a sigmoidoscopy.
For more information on screening tests for colon cancer, see:
For people at an increased risk for colorectal cancer
Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you:
What to think about
Virtual colonoscopy uses X-rays and computers to take two- or three-dimensional pictures of the interior lining of your large intestine. It may be used as a test for people who do not have an increased risk for colon cancer or for people who cannot have a colonoscopy. For people who have an increased risk for colon cancer, conventional colonoscopy may be better because it permits tissue biopsies or polyp removal. Virtual colonoscopy is not widely available, and the cost may not be covered by insurance.
- U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (2008). Screening for colorectal cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Available online: http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf/uspscolo.htm.
Other Works Consulted
- Levin B, et al. (2008). Screening and surveillance for the early detection of colorectal cancer and adenomatous polyps, 2008: A joint guideline from the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, and the American College of Radiology. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, 58(3): 130–160.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology|
|Last Revised||December 7, 2011|
Last Revised: December 7, 2011
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