Colorectal Cancer Test Recommendations - Topic Overview
For people at an average risk for colorectal (colon) cancer
Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has the following advice for
colorectal cancer testing:1
- People ages 50 to 75 should have a fecal occult
blood test (FOBT), sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy. Talk with your doctor about
which test is best for you.
- People who have a sigmoidoscopy every 5 years should also have a stool test (FOBT) at regular intervals.
- Some people older than 75 may benefit
from screening tests. Others may not. Talk to your doctor about testing for
colon cancer after age 75.
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
information on screening tests for colon cancer, see:
Colon Cancer: Which Screening Test Should I Have?
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.
For more information, see
the topics Colorectal Cancer and Colon Polyps.