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Colorectal Cancer Test Recommendations


Your risk for colorectal cancer gets higher as you get older. If you are not at high risk, experts recommend regular screening for adults ages 50 to 74.footnote 1 Talk with your doctor about your risk and when to start and stop screening. You may have one of several tests.

Screening tests for colorectal cancer look for signs of cancer before you have symptoms. Screening tests for colorectal cancer include:

  • Stool tests that can be done at home.
  • FIT (fecal immunochemical test). This test checks for signs of blood in small samples of stool. There are no special diets to follow. This test is done every year.
  • A procedure that allows your doctor to look directly at your colon. This test is usually done in your doctor's office or a medical clinic. It is done less often than stool tests, and require more preparation. Getting ready may include having a liquid diet for a day or two before your appointment and following instructions to clean out your colon.
    • Examples of these procedures include colonoscopy and flexible sigmoidoscopy. A colonoscopy lets your doctor look at the inside of your entire colon and rectum. You should have one every 10 years. A flexible sigmoidoscopy lets your doctor look at the inside of the lower part of your colon. It can be done every 10 years.

People who have an increased risk for colorectal cancer may need to be tested sooner or more often.



  1. Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care (2016). Recommendations on screening for colorectal cancer in primary care. Canadian Medical Association Journal, published online March 15, 2016. DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.151125. Accessed April 6, 2016.


Adaptation Date: 3/1/2022

Adapted By: Alberta Health Services

Adaptation Reviewed By: Alberta Health Services

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