When Should You Be Screened for Colon Cancer?

May 2, 2008

  • The standard age for the first screening of individuals at average risk is age 50. If no polyps are found, you should be screened every 10 years. If polyps are found, your physician may schedule more frequent screenings.
  • Because of a higher incidence of colon cancer among young African Americans, African American men and women at average risk should begin screening at age 45.
  • People with a first-degree relative (parent or sibling) with colon cancer or adenomatous polyps diagnosed before age 60, or two first-degree relatives diagnosed at any age, should be advised to have screening colonoscopies starting at age 40, or 10 years younger than the earliest diagnosis in their family, whichever comes first, and repeated every five years.
  • People with a first-degree relative with colorectal cancer or adenoma diagnosed after age 60 should be advised to be screened as average-risk persons, but beginning at age 40. People with two or more second-degree relatives (grandparent, aunt or uncle) with colorectal cancer should similarly be advised to begin screening at age 40 years. Screening should be repeated every five years, assuming no polyps are found. If polyps are found, the physician may schedule more frequent screenings.