Colorectal cancer is cancer of the colon or rectum. With certain types of screening, this cancer can be prevented by removing polyps (grape-like growths on the wall of the large intestine, which is part of the colon) before they become cancerous. Colonoscopies or stool-based tests can also detect the disease early when treatment is more likely to be successful.
In 2021, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) lowered the recommended colorectal cancer screening age from 50 to 45. Though colorectal cancer is seen more often in people ages 50 and over, diagnoses in the 50+ age group have decreased in recent years due to more people getting screened and fewer people smoking. Colorectal cancer incidence and deaths are on the rise in adults younger than age 50, and the rate of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 has doubled since the 1990s.
Black people are more likely to develop colorectal cancer and more likely to die from it than most other racial or ethnic groups.
Visit Too Young for This Sh*t for more information on colorectal cancer in younger adults
Start getting screened at age 45 if you’re at average risk for colorectal cancer.+ If you’re at increased risk, you may need to start regular screening at an earlier age and/or be screened more often.
Continue screening through age 75 if you are in good health, with a life expectancy of 10 years or more. If you are age 76–85, talk with your health care provider about whether to continue screening. After age 85, you should not get screened.
There are several options available for colorectal cancer screening. See the chart below and talk with your health care provider about which screening is right for you.
|Colonoscopy||Every 10 years|
|Virtual colonoscopy*||Every 5 years|
|Flexible sigmoidoscopy*||Every 5 years|
|High sensitivity guaiac based fecal occult blood test (HS gFOBT)*||Every year|
|Fecal immunochemical test (FIT)*||Every year|
|Multitarget stool DNA test (mt-sDNA*||Every 3 years|
+‘Average risk’ means you do not have:
*An abnormal result of a virtual colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy, a positive FOBT, FIT or sDNA test should be followed up with a timely colonoscopy.
You are at increased risk for colorectal cancer if you:
The recommended age to begin colorectal cancer screening for those of average risk changed from 50 to 45 in 2018.
The rate of colorectal cancer in people younger than 50 has doubled since the 1990s.
Surgery is the most common treatment. When the cancer has spread, chemotherapy or radiation may be administered before or after surgery.