Colorectal screening starts at age 45

By Regence
March 10, 2023
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Learn about screening options and choose the best one for you.

Colorectal cancer diagnoses are showing an alarming trend: people diagnosed with and/or dying from colorectal cancer are getting younger. Black Panther star actor Chadwick Boseman died at the age of 43 in 2020, and well-known TikToker Randy Gonzalez died at the age of 35 in January 2023, both from colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society's Colorectal Cancer Facts & Figures 2023-2025, 20% of new colorectal cancer diagnoses in 2019 were in patients under the age of 55, which is almost double the rate from 1995 of 11%. Today, colorectal cancer is the third-most-common type of cancer in the U.S. and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths.

Updated screening recommendation

In response to this troubling trend, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force revised its recommendation for colorectal cancer screening in 2021. The Task Force now recommends that adults begin regular colorectal cancer screenings at the age of 45 rather than 50.

Screening options

The most well-known screening method is colonoscopy, but it's not the only way to screen for colorectal cancer. Speak with your doctor about other options that may be appropriate depending on your risk factors. This could include an at-home stool test. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists the following screening options:

  • Stool tests, including guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT), fecal immunochemical test (FIT) and FIT-DNA test (also referred to as the stool DNA test)
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy
  • Colonoscopy
  • CT Colonography (Virtual Colonoscopy)

What to consider

Each test has advantages and disadvantages. Some are recommended every 5 years and others every 10 years. Some you can do from home and others are in-office procedures. When you talk to your doctor about what is right for you, consider:

  • Your age
  • Family history of colorectal cancer
  • Frequency of the screening methods
  • Invasiveness of the screening methods
  • Insurance coverage

We're here to help

Most Regence plans cover screening tests with no out-of-pocket costs when you see an in-network provider. Regence members who want to learn more about their health plan coverage, in-network providers and more can visit or call the number listed on their member ID card.