Did you know that colon cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States? Did you know that it affects men and women equally? Did you know that it is preventable?

At what age do I need to undergo colon cancer screening?

Early detection is the key to beating colon cancer. For this reason, Dr. Lyles encourages his patients to follow the screening guidelines established by the American College of Gastroenterology. The colon cancer recommended screening guidelines are as follows:

  • For men and women without a family history of colon cancer, the recommended age to begin colon cancer screening is at age 50.
  • If you have a family history of colon cancer, you may need to begin screening earlier than age 50. I would encourage you to discuss your family history with a gastroenterologist in order to see if you need to begin colon cancer screening before the age of 50.
  • African Americans at age 45 (see detailed explanation below)
  • If you have colon cancer or colon polyps, your doctor will discuss the follow-up exam frequency


What is my lifetime risk of developing colon cancer?

The likelihood of developing colon cancer in your life is 1 in 20.

How many colon cancer cases will be diagnosed this year?

136,000 new cases of colon cancer will be diagnosed this year.

How many people will die from colon cancer this year?

It is estimated that 50,000 people (in the United States) will die from colon this year.

I’ve heard that African-American patients need to start before age 50, is that true?

Yes; the American College of Gastroenterology recommends that African-American patients, without a family history of colon cancer, begin colon cancer screening at the age of 45 years old. This is because African-American patients are more likely to be diagnosed with colon cancer at a younger age than other ethnicities.

What are the accepted screening tests for colon cancer screening?

There are multiple recommended screening tests for colon cancer, including colonoscopy, stool based tests (fecal immunoglobin test (FIT), cologuard, fecal occult blood test), CT colonography and barium enema.

What makes colonoscopy different than the other colon cancer screening tests?

Colonoscopy is the only test that can both detect and prevent colon cancer. While other screening tests can detect a problem, colonoscopy allows for both the detection and prevention of cancer, by removal of pre-cancerous growths (polyps) from the colon during the exam.

What are polyps?

Polyps are pre-cancerous growths that form in the colon. If these growths are detected and removed, they can no longer progress to colon cancer. Although detection is important, removing a polyp before it can turn into a cancer is an incredibly powerful tool that only colonoscopy can provide.