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. People with a higher risk, such as people of African descent and people with a strong family history of colon cancer, should be tested sooner. Talk to your doctor about when you should be tested.
Stool test,* such as the fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
Every 1 to 2 years
|Every 10 years|
|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:
Some tests for colorectal cancer screening may not be available in all areas. Check with your doctor to find out what tests are used in your area.
For more information on screening tests for colon cancer, see:
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 or for people who cannot have a colonoscopy. 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
- 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. Also available online: http://www.cag-acg.org/position-statements.
- 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. Also available online: http://www.cag-acg.org/uploads/guidelines/Colorectal%20cancer%20screening%202004.pdf.
- 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.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine|
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Arvydas D. Vanagunas, MD - Gastroenterology|
|Last Revised||January 9, 2013|
Last Revised: January 9, 2013
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