The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force tells us who and when and how to test for which disease. Their research takes into account patient population characteristics and the evidence.
Who should be screened for colon cancer? All adults 50 to 75 years of age.
How often should colon cancer screening be done?
- Colonoscopy (a scope is placed up the rectum to the cecum which is 100% of the way around the large bowel) every 10 years.
- Or fecal occult blood testing every year (putting stool onto a special card and sending this to the lab to look for microscopic blood in the stool).
- Or flexible sigmoidoscopy (a scope is placed up the rectum to 60 cm which is the 1/3 of the way around the large bowel) every 5 years plus fecal occult blood testing every 3 years.
The Centers for disease Control and Prevention estimates that in 2012 only 27% of eligible adults had never been screened.
As a caveat, the screening guidelines above are for patients without family history of colon cancer and without any symptoms. Those with symptoms of abdominal pain, blood in stool, change in stools do not fall into the “screening” category. So, you may need a colonoscopy sooner than age 50 or more frequently than every 10 years.
Hope this helps.