The frequency of colon cancer screenings depends on your risk and the type of screening you receive. Tests for blood in the stool should be done annually, whereas virtual colonoscopies and barium dye/x-ray views only need to be done every five years. A traditional colonoscopy should be done every 10 years. If you are at a high risk for colon cancer, your doctor will likely recommend more frequent screenings.
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Honor Society of Nursing (STTI) answered
Both men and women should be screened for colon cancer, starting at age 50. In some cases screening may begin earlier, for example, if you have a family history of colorectal cancer. How often you are screened depends on a number of factors. For colonoscopies, the interim between tests is usually 10 years. However, if a test finds a problem, this may be shortened.
For flexible sigmoidoscopy, often combined with fecal occult blood testing (FOBT), the test should be conducted every five years. Screening, using either procedure, generally stops at age 75.
Since finding and removing polyps actually prevents colon cancer, regular screenings are important. Beginning at age, everyone should be screened for colon cancer, usually once every 5-10 years. People at high risk should be screened more often and should discuss a screening schedule with their doctor.
David A. Greenwald, Gastroenterology, answered on behalf of American Society for Gastrointestinal EndoscopyIndividuals at average risk screened at age 50 with normal exam results will not have to return for another exam for ten years. Removal of an adenomatous (precancerous) polyp prevents that polyp from becoming cancerous, but the patient is still at risk to develop new polyps in the colon and will require more frequent follow-up exams. If the patient has a family history of colorectal cancer, the interval for their follow-up exam may be shortened. After a colonoscopy, the doctor will recommend when the patient should return for another colonoscopy.
People who have been diagnosed with polyps or colorectal cancer should notify their family members of the type of polyp or cancer found and their age at diagnosis. Both factors are important in assessing family members’ risk and will help their doctor determine when the family members should begin screening for colorectal cancer.