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Get Screened

In general, everyone between the ages of 50-74 should get screened regularly for colon cancer. There are two screening tests for colon cancer – the fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and colonoscopy

FIT is recommended every two years for people who do not have a personal history of adenomas or a significant family history of colon cancer.‎


If you are younger than 74 with a personal history of adenomas:

Colonoscopy is recommended every three or five years, depending on the type of adenoma removed at your last colonoscopy.


If you are younger than 74 with a significant family history of colon cancer:

Colonoscopy is recommended every five years.


Significant family history means that you have:

  • One first-degree relative (mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, or son) with colon cancer diagnosed under the age of 60; or,
  •  Two or more first-degree relatives with colon cancer diagnosed at any age.

Colonoscopy screening can start at whichever age is youngest between these two:

  • Age 40; or,
  • 10 years younger than the age of diagnosis of your youngest first-degree relative that was diagnosed with colon cancer.

How to get screened for colon cancer

Your primary care provider can refer you for FIT or colonoscopy. A primary care provider plays an important role in cancer screening. They can advise you about the benefits and limitations related to screening, order tests, and follow-up on test results.

If you don't have a primary care provider, you can call HealthLink BC at 8-1-1 and speak with a Health Service Navigator. They will review options with you, including how to find a family doctor accepting new patients, accessing walk-in clinics, or finding a nurse practitioner in your community.

You may also consider:

Your questions

Screening is only recommended for people who are not experiencing symptoms. Talk to your doctor about a referral for diagnostic testing if you are experiencing any of the symptoms below:

  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Weight loss 
If you have a personal history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease, you should continue to obtain care through your specialist or doctor as you have individual needs that cannot be met with a population approach to screening.

Screening may lead to additional tests to determine the reason for an abnormal screening result. This does not mean a cancer was found. The majority of people called back for additional tests will not have cancer.

  • Colon screening has been shown to decrease the chance of dying from colon cancer. However, there is no perfect screening test and some people will die from colon cancer even if they have screening. A FIT may be abnormal when there is nothing wrong. A FIT may also be normal when there is a cancer or polyp in the colon. Some polyps and cancers do not bleed or may not be bleeding at the time the test was done. 
  • Screening may lead to additional tests to determine the reason for an abnormal screening result. This does not mean a cancer was found. The majority of people called back for additional tests will not have cancer.
  • Certain cancers may never cause any symptoms or affect life expectancy or quality of life. However, research shows that most colon cancers are harmful and that colon cancer should be detected and treated as early as possible.
  • There can be risks with colonoscopy such as bleeding and bowel perforation, and in rare cases, death.
For more information about colon screening, please see this brochure (also available in PunjabiSimplified Chinese, and Traditional Chinese).


SOURCE: Get Screened ( )
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