Skip to Content

Average Risk

Colon or colorectal cancer (CRC) screening for average risk individuals is recommended beginning at age 50. For African Americans, who are at slightly higher than average risk, the American College of Gastroenterology guidelines advise a colorectal cancer screening beginning at age 45.

You are considered at average risk if you have NOT experienced any of the following risk factors for colon cancer:

  • bleeding
  • change in bowel habits
  • abdominal pain
  • iron deficiency anemia (low iron/low blood count)

Additionally, you fall into the category of average risk if you have no personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps and do not have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

A screening colonoscopy continues to be the gold standard for detecting polyps and CRC. Flexible sigmoidoscopy is another screening and diagnostic tool. At NorthShore, we offer both endoscopic testing options depending on your needs as determined by a GI specialist and standard colon cancer screening guidelines.

Radiographic tests such as CT colonoscopy and double contrast barium enema (DCBE) can also detect many large polyps or colon cancer. These tests, though, are not as reliable for discovering small polyps.

While not considered preventative, other screening tests are available for diagnosing early CRC. They include simple stool tests to spot hidden blood in the stool and advanced stool DNA tests that look for DNA mutations in the stools cells potentially caused by colon cancer.

Colon Cancer Screening Guidelines for Average Risk Patients

Tests that detect CRC

Screening interval

Stool blood tests


Stool DNA

Guidelines vary; consult with your GI specialist

Tests that detect CRC and polyps

Screening interval

Endoscopic tests:

  • Colonoscopy
  • Flexible sigmoidoscopy


Every 10 years
Every 5 years


Radiographic tests:

  • CT colonography
  • Double contrast barium enema (DCBE)


Every 5 years
Every 5 years

For More Information

For more information on risk factors for colon cancer or to schedule a screening colonoscopy with one of our gastroenterologists, please call 888.364.6400.