The purpose of screening is early diagnosis and treatment. Screening tests are administered to people without current symptoms, but who have risk factors for certain diseases or conditions.

Screening Guidelines

The decision to screen will likely be made on an individual basis based on your risk factors. Most guidelines suggest the following:

Average Risk

Since age is a risk factor, screening is recommended starting at age 50. Screening may be started earlier in African Americans and Native Americans because of higher risk. Screening may be done with one of the following:

High Risk

Recommendations for those with a first-degree relative with onset of colorectal cancer after age 60 include:

  • Begin screening at age 40
  • Preferred screening—colonoscopy every 10 years or more frequently, depending on the colonoscopy findings

Recommendations for those with a first-degree relative with onset of colorectal cancer before age 60 include:

  • Begin screening at age 40 or 10 years younger than age of diagnosis of the affected relative (whichever is first)
  • Preferred screening—colonoscopy every 5 years or more frequently, depending on the colonoscopy findings

Screening test options listed above can also be used for those with high risk.