Colorectal Cancer | Causes & Risk Factors


When should I be screened for colorectal cancer?

Colorectal cancer is more common in older people, so doctors usually screen people 50 years of age and older. Some people have risk factors that make them more likely to get colorectal cancer at a young age. Screening should begin earlier in these people.

You should be screened for colorectal cancer at a younger age if:

  • You have had colorectal cancer or polyps in the past
  • You have a family history of colorectal cancer or polyps
  • You have ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease
  • You have a hereditary colon cancer syndrome

If you are in one of these groups, you may also need to be tested more often than a person who doesn't have risk factors for colorectal cancer.

Any one of the screening programs (with a digital rectal exam at each screening) may be used every 5 to 10 years, beginning at 50 years of age.

Talk to your family doctor to decide which screening tests you should have and how often you should be screened. If you don't have any risk factors for colorectal cancer, you will probably have your first screening test around 50 years of age.


Update on Colorectal Cancer by DR Rudy, MJ Zdon (American Family Physician March 15, 2000,

Written by editorial staff

Reviewed/Updated: 04/14
Created: 09/00