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Do I need to get screened for colorectal cancer?

Yes! All men and women should be screened for colorectal cancer.

Your individual risk factors – such as ethnicity, lifestyle and family history – will determine when you should start getting checked.

The American Cancer Society recently recommended that adults without a family history should begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45.

When should I get screened?

If you Then you should
Are experiencing symptoms Talk to your doctor immediately
Have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps Get screened at age 40 or 10 years before the age of the youngest case in your immediate family (mother, father, sister, brother)
Are African American Get screened at age 45
Have a genetic link to colorectal cancer such as Lynch Syndrome, FAP, etc. Family members who tested positive for a relevant mutation(s) should start colonoscopy screening during their early 20s, or 2 to 5 years younger than the youngest person in the family with a diagnosis, and repeat it every 1-2 years.
Family members who have not been tested yet should be screened during their early 20s, or 2 to 5 years younger than the youngest person in the family with a diagnosis.
Have a personal history of cancer Talk to your doctor and get screened before age 45
Have ulcerative colitis, inflammatory bowel disease or Crohn’s disease Talk to your doctor about getting screened before age 45

If you are experiencing symptoms such as pain, blood or other irregularities, talk to your doctor immediately, regardless of your age or family history.

Essential viewing

Risk Factors: What You Need to Know

Dr. Durado Brooks is the former Director of the American Cancer Society's Prostate and Colorectal Cancer division. His primary focus is to help people and doctors learn about preventing cancer or finding it early.

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