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Middlesex-London Health Unit

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Colorectal Cancer Screening

Women and men 50 years of age and older should be screened for colorectal cancer. Often there are no early warning signs of colon cancer, but if it is caught early, there is a 90% chance that it can be cured.

The ColonCancerCheck (CCC) program has released updated colorectal cancer screening recommendations (PDF 243KB).

Screening people at average risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Screening with a fecal occult blood test (FOBT) every two years for asymptomatic people ages 50 to 74 without a family history of colorectal cancer.
  • Abnormal FOBT results should be followed up with colonoscopy within eight weeks.
  • People ages 50 to 74 without a family history of colorectal cancer who choose to be screened with flexible sigmoidoscopy should be screened every ten years.

Screening people at increased risk of colorectal cancer:

  • Asymptomatic people should be screened with colonoscopy if they have a family history of colorectal cancer that includes one or more first-degree relatives with the disease. Screening should begin at 50 years of age, or ten years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed, whichever occurs first.

Definition of average risk:

  • People ages 50 to 74 with no first-degree relative who has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
  • No personal history of pre-cancerous colorectal polyps requiring surveillance or inflammatory bowel disease (i.e. Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis).

Definition of increased risk:

  • People with a family history of colorectal cancer that includes one or more first-degree relatives who have been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, but do not meet the criteria for colorectal cancer hereditary syndromes.

Tests for Colon Cancer

There are 2 types of tests for colon cancer:

  • The Fecal Occult Blood Test is done for people with an average risk of colon cancer.
  • The Colonoscopy is done for people who are at increased risk of colon cancer OR who are at average risk of colon cancer and have had an abnormal Fecal Occult Blood Test.

Additional Information


Date of creation: December 21, 2012
Last modified on: May 2, 2017


1Cancer Care Ontario. (2016). Colorectal Cancer Screening. Retrieved from
2Canadian Cancer Society. (2012). Screening for Colorectal Cancer. Retrieved from
3Canadian Cancer Society. (2012). Diagnosing Colorectal Cancer. Retrieved from
4Cancer Care Ontario. (2016). ColonCancerCheck. Retrieved from