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When should I be screened for colorectal cancer?

Image of an older woman and older man

Our recommendation

  • If you are 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 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.

People at high risk for colorectal cancer may need to be tested more often and at an earlier age than people with average risk. Talk to your doctor about your risk.