Topic Overview

Your doctor may recommend earlier or more frequent testing if you:

  • Already have been diagnosed with colorectal
  • Have a first-degree relative (parent, brother, sister, or
    child) with an adenomatous polyp or colorectal cancer. Some experts say that if you have a first-degree relative who has had colorectal cancer, you should begin screening earlier than age 50. They recommend starting at age 40 or when you are 10 years younger than when your relative was diagnosed with cancer, whichever is younger.footnote 1
  • Have had
    adenomatous polyps removed from your colon. This type
    of polyp is more likely to turn into cancer, but the risk is still very
  • Have inflammatory bowel disease, such as
    ulcerative colitis or
    Crohn’s disease.
  • Have a rare
    inherited polyp syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or hereditary nonpolyposis colon cancer (HNPCC).
  • Have had
    radiation treatments to the abdomen or pelvis.

If you have an increased risk for colon polyps, the frequency
of your screening depends on your overall health, age, and combination of other
risk factors. Talk with your doctor about the types and frequency of tests that
will be best for you and your level of risk.



  1. Qaseem A, et al. (2012). Screening for colorectal cancer: A guidance statement from the American College of Physicians. Annals of Internal Medicine, 156(5): 378-386.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD – Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Jerome B. Simon, MD, FRCPC, FACP – Gastroenterology

Current as ofMay 3, 2017