The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who have risk factors for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The decision to screen will likely be made on an individual basis based on your risk factors. Most guidelines suggest the following:

Average Risk

Since age is a risk factor, screening is recommended starting at age 50. Screening may be started earlier in African Americans and Native Americans because of higher risk. Screening may be done with one of the following:

    
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • Sigmoidoscopy every 5 years
  • Virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography) every 5 years—for those who cannot have scope procedure
  • Barium enema every 5 years
  • MR colonography every 5 years
  • Stool DNA test every 3 years
  • Annual Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)
  • Annual fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • High Risk

    Recommendations for those with a first-degree relative with onset of colorectal cancer after age 60 include:

        
  • Begin screening at age 40
  • Preferred screening—colonoscopy every 10 years or more frequently, depending on the colonoscopy findings
  • Recommendations for those with a first-degree relative with onset of colorectal cancer before age 60 include:

        
  • Begin screening at age 40 or 10 years younger than age of diagnosis of the affected relative (whichever is first)
  • Preferred screening—colonoscopy every 5 years or more frequently, depending on the colonoscopy findings
  • Screening test options listed above can also be used for those with high risk.