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Colorectal screening guidelines

Doctor and patient

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer among men and women. The good news is it’s a preventable disease. Regular screenings are important because they can prevent colorectal cancer through early detection.

For those at average risk for colorectal cancer, the American Cancer Society recommends starting regular screening at age 45. This can be done in two ways. The first way is a test that looks for signs of cancer in a person’s stool (a stool-based test). The second is an exam that looks at the colon and rectum (a visual exam). You can talk to your doctor about which test may be a good option for you. No matter which test you choose, the most important thing is to be screened.

If you’re in good health, you should continue regular screening through age 75.

If you are ages 76 through 85, talk with your doctor about whether continuing to be screened is right for you. When deciding, take into account your own preferences, overall health, and past screening history.

If you are over 85, you no longer need to receive colorectal cancer screenings.

If you choose to be screened with a test other than colonoscopy, any abnormal test result needs to be followed up with a colonoscopy.