Colon Cancer Screening – Recommendations and What to Expect
The American Cancer Society recommends that average risk women begin regular colon cancer screenings at the age of 45. Average risk means no personal or familial history of colorectal cancer, no history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis), or a history of radiation in the abdomen region to treat other forms of cancer.
The Affordable Care Act is based on the United States Preventive Services Task Force that recommend screening begin at age 50. ACS has updated its guidelines to call for colorectal screening to begin at age 45. However, health insurance plans may not yet cover the screening test which could result in out of pocket expense for people under the age of 50.
Women in good health should get regular colorectal cancer screenings through the age of 75. At that point, you may speak to your doctor about personal preferences and decide whether continued screening is a good option for your lifestyle.
Colon Cancer Screening – What to Expect?
There are a couple of different tests for the administration of colon cancer screening. Stool-based tests include these variations:
- Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) – administering annually if needed
- Highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) – administering annually if needed
- Multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) – can be administered every 3 years (Cologuard©)
Visual (structural) exams of the colon and rectum come in 3 different forms:
- Colonoscopy – administered every 10 years
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) – administered every 5 years
- Flexible sigmoidoscopy (FSIG) – administered every 5 years