Colorectal Cancer Test Recommendations

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Colorectal Cancer Test Recommendations

Topic Overview

The Canadian Association of Gastroenterology and the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation recommend routine colorectal testing for people age 50 and older who do not have an increased risk for developing colorectal cancer.

The following guidelines are for people older than 50 who do not have an increased risk for colorectal cancer.1, 2

Colorectal cancer screening guidelines for people 50 and older at average risk
Test Frequency

Stool test,* such as the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)

Every 1 to 2 years

or

Sigmoidoscopy*

Every 10 years

or

Colonoscopy

Every 10 years

*Some experts recommend combining a stool test with a sigmoidoscopy.

Other tests that may be used to screen for colorectal cancer include:

You will need to begin routine testing earlier than age 50 and have it more frequently if you have an increased risk for colorectal cancer. You have an increased risk if you:

What to think about

Virtual colonoscopy uses X-rays and computers to take two- or three-dimensional pictures of the interior lining of your large intestine. It may be used as a test for people who do not have an increased risk for colon cancer. For people who have an increased risk for colon cancer, conventional colonoscopy may be better because it permits tissue biopsies or polyp removal. Virtual colonoscopy is not widely available in most parts of Canada, and the cost may not be covered by provincial health plans or private health insurance.3

References

Citations

  1. Leddin D, et al. (2010). Canadian Association of Gastroenterology position statement on screening individuals at average risk for developing colorectal cancer: 2010. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, 24(12): 705–714.
  2. Leddin D, et al. (2004). Canadian Association of Gastroenterology and the Canadian Digestive Health Foundation: Guidelines on colon cancer screening. Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, 18(2): 93–99.
  3. Bresalier RS (2002). Malignant neoplasms of the large intestine. In M Feldman et al., eds., Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2215–2261. Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology
Last Revised February 28, 2011

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