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Who Should Screen

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In general, anyone between the ages of 50-74 who is experiencing no symptoms, should get screened for colon cancer.

Colonoscopy is recommended every three or five years, depending on the type of adenoma removed at your last colonoscopy.
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 the following: 
  • Age 40; or, 
  • 10 years younger than the age of diagnosis of your youngest first-degree relative that was diagnosed with colon cancer.

Who should not get screened?

Screening is only recommended for people who are not experiencing symptoms that may indicate colon cancer. Symptoms can include blood in your stool, abdominal pain, change in bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss. If you are experiencing these symptoms, talk to your health care provider about a referral for diagnostic testing to determine the cause of these symptoms.

Individuals with a personal history of colon cancer, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn's disease have individual needs that cannot be met with a population approach to screening. These patients should continue to obtain care through their specialist or primary care provider.

If you are older than 74, and have never screened for colon cancer with the FIT or had a colonoscopy, you may benefit from having a FIT or colonoscopy.

Given the lengthy amount of time it generally takes colorectal cancer to develop, if you have been screening regularly then you can safely stop screening once you turn 75.  

As you get older, your personal health situation plays a greater role in whether or not the risks of the colonoscopy procedure (the follow-up test after an abnormal FIT) can outweigh the benefits of screening. The decision to continue screening should be discussed with your health care provider, who can review with you the benefits and risks of screening in the context of your overall health.

Regardless of your age, talk to your health care provider if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
  • Blood in your stool
  • Abdominal pain
  • Change in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight loss
People who are average risk (no personal history of adenomas or significant family history of colon cancer) and younger than 50 are not currently recommended for colon screening. 

BC Cancer’s colon screening recommendations are based on the guidelines of the BC Guidelines and Protocols Advisory Committee (GPAC), a partnership between Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health. The committee reviews available research and information to ensure BC’s guidelines reflects the best evidence related to population-based colon cancer screening.

Screening is intended for people who are not experiencing any symptoms. Anyone, regardless of age, who is experiencing a change in their colon health, including: blood in their stool, change in their bowel habits, or unexplained weight loss, should speak to their health care provider right away.

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SOURCE: Who Should Screen ( )
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