Nuts and bolts on colon cancer screening

normal colonic mucosa

normal colonic mucosa

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.

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About drlesliegreenberg

I have been practicing as a family physician for over 20 years--as both an educator of physicians and clinician. From infancy to the elderly, I perform obstetrics and general medicine. I love my career and am passionate about my field of knowledge and my patients. Follow me on Facebook at Leslie Md Greenberg Medical Disclaimer The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.
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