Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Colorectal Cancer Health Center

Font Size

Colon Cancer Test -- Once May Be Enough

Single Test May Be More Acceptable to Patients


Leading colorectal cancer experts contacted by WebMD agree that making screening acceptable to a wider number of people is critical to saving lives. They say that the single-test approach has merit, but it is too soon to say whether one-time screening is effective.

"Our message is that any test you have is better than not being tested at all," says Durado Brooks, MD, MPH, director of colorectal cancer research for the American Cancer Society. "Right now the screening rate in this country is around 40% and our early-stage diagnosis is only about 37%. The benefits of any colorectal cancer screening are huge, and it is a crime that it is underutilized."

Ernest Hawk, MD, chief of gastrointestinal cancer prevention for the National Cancer Institute, says one-time screening is not likely to be as effective as routine screening. But he says there are other potential advantages to the one-time approach.

"It is amazing how fast people run when they are told they need to be screened for colorectal cancer," Hawk tells WebMD. "Certainly telling them that they only have to do it once would increase compliance. But we have to wait and see if this approach is effective."

The American Cancer Society currently recommends that men and women follow one of the following five screening options beginning at age 50:

  • Yearly fecal occult blood test (FOBT) -- a test to check for blood in the stool.
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years.
  • Yearly FOBT plus sigmoidoscopy every five years.
  • Double-contrast barium enema every five years.
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

Colorectal cancer cells
The right diagnosis is the most important factor.
man with a doctor
Our health check will steer you in the right direction.
sauteed cherry tomatoes
Fight cancer one plate at a time.
bladder cancer x-ray
Do you know the warning signs?
Colon vs Rectal Cancer
New Colorectal Treatments
can lack of sleep affect your immune system
Cancer Facts Quiz
Virtual Colonoscopy
Picture of the Colon
Vitamin D