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What Are the Latest Colorectal Cancer Guidelines?

It’s likely that you’ve been touched in some way by cancer. Maybe you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with the disease. It claims the lives of a half million Americans every year.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. Now recent research shows that new cases of colorectal cancer are increasing among younger adults. Research continues to find out why.

To help save more lives, the American Cancer Society (ASC) has updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening.

The new guidelines recommend that adults ask their health care clinicians about starting screenings at a younger age.


Individuals at Average Risk — ASC Screening Recommendations

  • Start regular screenings at age 45. (The previous guideline was to start at age 50.)
  • If you’re in good health with a life expectancy of more than 10 years, you should continue regular screenings through age 75.
  • If you’re age 76 to 85, ask your health care clinician for a screening recommendation.
  • People over age 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screenings.


Individuals at Higher-Than-Average Risk — ASC Screening Recommendations

People who have above-average risk for colorectal cancer should ask their health care clinicians about starting colorectal cancer screenings before age 45. The ASC also suggests getting screened more often.

You may have a higher risk for colorectal cancer if you have a:

  • Personal history of colorectal cancer, certain types of polyps or inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
  • Personal history of radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a past cancer.
  • Family history of colorectal cancer or certain polyps.
  • Family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome. This would include familial adenomatous polyposis or Lynch syndrome.

The ACS doesn’t have screening guidelines for people with a higher risk for colorectal cancer. If you’re in this category, ask your health care clinician about your screening options.


Recommended Colorectal Cancer Test Options

Visit with your clinician about which test option(s) and schedule best fits your needs.

You may want to check on your insurance coverage before scheduling a test. Insurance may not cover tests for those in the added age range. Some tests may have a lower out-of-pocket expense.

The ASC recommends these testing options:

  • Stool-based tests:
    • A fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year.
    • A guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year.
    • Multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every 3 years.
  • Visual exams:
    • Colonoscopy every 10 years.
    • CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years.
    • Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) every 5 years.

We encourage everyone to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of colorectal cancer.

Whenever you have questions about cancer screenings, ask your health care clinicians. They’ll be able to recommend the best choices for you. You can make your appointments online.

If you need a doctor, you can also find one online


Meet the Author

Aaron H. Chevinsky, MD is the Director of Surgical Oncology at Aurora St. Luke's Medical Center in Milwaukee, WI

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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