Experts have concluded that it is essential that the population is tested for colon cancer at age 50 and continues to do so every 10 years until the age of 75. However, they have now stated that there is no one screening method that is superior to another, leaving it up to the individual to decide the method with which they are most comfortable. [1]

In May 2015, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that only 25 percent of uninsured people and 60 percent of insured patients were actually being screened for colorectal cancer. As one in 21 men and one in 23 women can expect to be diagnosed with the disease at some point in their lifetime, early detection is key to controlling the cancer once it is diagnosed. [2]

Many doctors feel that patient hesitance in being screened comes with the fact that many doctors insist on a colonoscopy, which the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force no longer feels is the best way to test for the cancer. There are positives to the colonoscopy, in that it can diagnose cancer and/or a polyp and take tissue for sample at the same time.

However, there is no need to rush to do a colonoscopy as the first line of defense. Instead, patients can take DNA based stool tests, a fecal occult blood test (in which a doctor looks for blood in the stool), a flexible sigmoidoscopy (a test that involves looking into the colon but is less invasive than the traditional colonoscopy) and a scan of the colon.

If something suspicious is found in these preliminary tests, however, it will be imperative that patients follow up with a traditional invasive colonoscopy.

“In the current recommendation, instead of emphasizing specific screening approaches, the USPSTF has instead chosen to highlight that there is convincing evidence that colorectal cancer screening substantially reduces deaths from the disease among adults aged 50 to 75 years and that not enough adults in the United States are using this effective preventive intervention,” said the US Preventative Services Task Force on the subject.

For people over the age of 75, screening should only be undertaken if they are healthy enough and do not have any other conditions that would limit the ability to properly screen for colorectal cancer.


[1] Tuscon


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Post written byAnna Scanlon:
Anna Scanlon is an author of YA and historical fiction and a PhD student at the University of Leicester where she is finishing her degree in modern history.