Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Screening

James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE
Last Modified: December 9, 2001

Dear OncoLink "Ask the Experts,"

I am a 26-year-old female. My grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer at age 55 and died of the disease at age 60. My mother has been diagnosed with the disease at age 49. She was in Stage IV when her cancer was diagnosed. At what age should I have a colonoscopy?


James D. Lewis, MD, MSCE, Associate Professor of Radiation Oncology at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, responds:

It is not possible to provide an answer specific for you without knowing more details of your family's medical history. The current guidelines for persons with a family history of colorectal cancer would be to begin screening around age 40. However, with two relatives on your mother's side having colorectal cancer, and one before age 50, it is possible that you should be screened earlier. You should seek consultation with a gastroenterologist and ask them this question. By providing more detailed information about your family history, they can provide you with better guidance. You might consider joining the OncoLink/National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance prevention database.