When Should I Start Getting Screened for Colorectal Cancer?

By: Asif Zamir MD, FACG,AGAF,FACP.
DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute

Colorectal cancer is the third-most-diagnosed cancer in both men and women in the United States. The lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 23 for men and 1 in 26 for women. It is expected to cause about 53,010 in 2024 alone. Due to an increase in the incidence of this disease in younger individuals, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently changed the screening age for colorectal cancer to adults aged 45 -75 years. This is for men and women at average risk, even in the absence of other diseases. Adults aged 76 – 85 years can also be screened on a case-by-case basis if their life expectancy is considered to be 10 years or more.

Patients with a first-degree relative with a diagnosis of colorectal cancer should start colorectal cancer screening at age 40–or 10 years before the age when the family member was diagnosed, whichever is earlier. Patients with a first-degree relative with a history of advanced colon polyps (>1cm, dysplastic or villous features) can also be considered for early screening at age 40.

Others who require earlier screening are patients with a diagnosis of Lynch syndrome, familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP), inflammatory bowel disease, and similar conditions. The preferred screening method is a colonoscopy, as it allows direct visualization of the colon and removal of polypoid lesions before malignant transformation. For patients unwilling to undergo a colonoscopy, other test modalities are available, such as stool-based tests (FIT, sDNA-FIT) or CT colonography. However, it is important to know that a colonoscopy is the only method that can prevent colorectal cancer development.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month! Our expert physicians are here to help you learn about the best options to detect colon cancer utilizing screenings.

​DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute can help guide you through the process of getting your screening scheduled. If you or a loved one would like more information or would like to speak to one of our experts, please call the DHR Health Gastroenterology Institute at (956) 362-3636.