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Who Should Have a Colorectal Screening and How Often?

Who Should Have a Colorectal Screening and How Often?

More than 50,000 people die yearly of colorectal cancer, making it the second most deadly cancer in the United States. When caught early, colorectal cancer is less likely to cause complications and can often be treated successfully. This is why colorectal screenings are so important. 

At South Plains Rural Health Services, we're committed to preventive procedures like colorectal screenings, including colonoscopies. Read on to learn more about the importance of colorectal screenings, who should undergo screenings, and how often they should be done to help you stay proactive about your health.

Why colorectal screenings matter

Colorectal cancer develops from precancerous growths, known as polyps, in the colon or rectum. If they’re left untreated, these polyps can become cancerous over time. Regular colorectal screenings detect any polyps early, so they can be removed before they have the chance to develop into cancer. Screenings can also detect colorectal cancer in its early stages when it's most treatable.

Recommendations for colorectal screenings

The American Cancer Society recommends that individuals who have an average risk for colorectal cancer start getting regular screenings at age 45. 

The frequency of your colorectal screenings depends on the type of screening test used and your personal risk factors. Common screening tests include colonoscopy, fecal occult blood test (FOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), and stool DNA test.

We can help determine the most appropriate screening schedule based on your age, risk factors, and preferences. Colonoscopies are the most common screening and are considered the optimal way to detect polyps and colon cancer. After you reach 50, you should have a colonoscopy every 10 years. If you’re undergoing stool-based tests, you may need one every one to three years. 

Risk factors may change the recommendations

You may need to start screening earlier or undergo more frequent screening based on their risk factors. Several factors may increase your risk of colorectal cancer, including:


The risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, so screening is particularly important for people aged 45 and older.

Personal or family history

If you’ve had colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps or have a family history of cancer, we may recommend you start screening earlier than age 45. This is also true if you have genetic syndromes such as Lynch syndrome or familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP).

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)

Anyone with inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis have an increased risk of developing colorectal cancer and may require more frequent screening. Some research suggests that people who’ve had IBD for 30 years or longer have a 7% greater risk of developing colon cancer compared to the average person.

Lifestyle factors

Certain lifestyle factors, such as a sedentary lifestyle, obesity, smoking, and heavy alcohol consumption, may increase your risk of colorectal cancer and mean you’ll need more frequent or earlier screenings. 

Dietary choices also impact your risk. If you have a diet low in fruits and vegetables, a low-fiber and high-fat diet, or a diet high in processed meats, talk to us. You may need a more personalized approach to colorectal cancer screening. 

Colorectal screening is an essential part of your preventive healthcare. By understanding who should undergo screening and how often it should be done, you know when it’s time to reach out and set up your appointment. 

If you're due for colorectal screening or have questions about screening recommendations, don't hesitate to reach out to the team here at South Plains Rural Health Services.

Call one of our four locations, or use our online scheduling tool to make your appointment today. 


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