Fortunately, colon cancer develops slowly, typically over a period of 10 to 20 years. In many cases, screening tests can detect and prevent it before it develops into cancer. A screening test is a test performed as a preventive measure to detect a disease in someone before they begin to develop any signs or symptoms.
Adults at average risk of developing colon cancer should begin screening at age 50.
African Americans have higher risk of colon and rectal cancer and should begin screening at age 45.
Individuals with a family history of colon cancer must also start screening earlier.
UCLA Health strongly recommends that adults at average risk of developing colon cancer begin screening at age 50. Screening starting at age 50 is also supported by several professional medical societies, including the United States Preventative Service Task Force (USPSTF). Some organizations, including the American Cancer Society (ACS), recommend that average-risk adults begin screening at age 45. However, there is currently no scientific data to support screening average-risk individuals before age 50.
The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG), American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) all suggest that African Americans begin screening at age 45 given higher rates of colon cancer and deaths in this group.
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