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Who is at risk for colorectal cancer? Who should get tested?


  • In addition, men and women over age 50 should talk to their doctor about regular preventive screenings. These include flexible sigmoidoscopy (generally recommended once every 5 years if the first test is normal), a colonoscopy, which is the gold standard, once every 10 years if the first test is normal, or a barium enema once every 5 to 10 years if the first test is normal. For those over 50 that do not get a colonoscopy or barium enema, a yearly stool test for blood is advised.
  • Men and women who are at higher risk because they have a personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps may need to be screened before age 50. In addition to an annual digital rectal exam, they may need regular preventive screenings every five years regardless of whether the first test is normal. Patients with long-standing inflammatory bowel disease may also need screening before age 50 and on a more frequent basis.
  • Women with a personal or family history of ovarian, endometrial or breast cancer may also need to be screened before age 50.