If you are aged 50 to 74 and not at high risk for colorectal cancer, have a stool test every 2 years.
If you are 75 or older, talk to your doctor about whether a stool test is right for you.
There is convincing evidence that stool tests with appropriate follow-up can significantly reduce deaths from colorectal cancer.
Follow-up for a positive test should include a colonoscopy or double contrast barium enema (an x-ray of the large intestine) or flexible sigmoidoscopy.
A colonoscopy is not usually recommended as a routine screening test for people who don’t have a high risk for colorectal cancer. There isn’t enough evidence that it is more helpful than other available tests, and it has a slightly greater risk for harm.
If you are at high risk for colorectal cancer
People at high risk for colorectal cancer may need to be tested more often and at an earlier age than people with average risk. You may be at higher risk if you have:
- a parent, sibling or child who has had colorectal cancer
- a personal history of colorectal cancer or polyps
- inflammatory bowel disease
- some inherited syndromes
- signs or symptoms of colorectal cancer
Talk to your doctor about your risk. If you are at higher than average risk, you may need a personal plan for testing.