The American Cancer Society believes that preventing colorectal cancer (and not just finding it early) should be a major reason for getting tested. Having polyps found and removed keeps some people from getting colorectal cancer. You are encouraged to have tests that have the best chance of finding both polyps and cancer if these tests are available to you and you are willing to have them.
Starting at age 50, men and women at average risk for developing colorectal cancer should use one of the screening tests below:
Tests that find polyps and cancer
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years*
- Colonoscopy every 10 years
- Double-contrast barium enema every 5 years*
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every 5 years*
Tests that mainly find cancer
- Guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year*,**
- Fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year*,**
- Stool DNA test every 3 years*
*Colonoscopy should be done if test results are positive.
** Highly sensitive versions of these tests should be used with the take-home multiple sample method. A gFOBT or FIT done during a digital rectal exam in the doctor’s office is not enough for screening.