Fast Facts: The Best Colorectal Cancer Tests is the Test That Gets Done

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March 2013

The Best Colorectal Cancer Tests is the Test That Gets Done

The Problem:

  • People are less likely to have a Colorectal cancer (CRC) screening when colonoscopy is presented as the only option.
  • CRC is the second leading cancer killer of men and women in the US, following lung cancer.

Colorectal Cancer Tests Save Lives:

  • About 90% of people live five or more years when their colorectal cancer is found early through testing.
  • About 1 in 3 adults (23 million) between 50 and 75 years old are not getting screened as recommended.
  • 10% of adults who were tested for colorectal cancer used an effective at-home stool test.


  • The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that patients ages 50-75 have one of the following CRC screening tests that are effective at saving lives:
    1. Stool tests (guaiac fecal occult blood test (FOBT) or fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
    2. Colonoscopy
    3. Sigmoidoscopy (now seldom done).
  • Studies show that people who are able to choose the test they prefer are more likely to comply with their recommended screenings.
  • Increasing the use of recommended colorectal cancer tests can save more lives and is cost-effective.
  • Note: People at higher risk of developing colorectal cancer should begin screening at a younger age and may need to be tested more frequently. The decision to be screened after age 75 should be made on an individual patient basis.  For more information, please refer to the current colorectal cancer screening guidelines from the USPSTF at

To Increase Testing, Health Care Providers Can:

  • Offer all recommended test options with advice about each.
  • Match patients with the test they are most likely to complete.
  • Work with public health professionals to:
    • Hire and train "patient navigators," who offer support, teach, schedule, and follow-up with individuals prior to and post procedure, which will increase screening compliance.
    • Create ways to make it easier for people to get FOBT/FIT kits.
    • Spread the word about Free Colon Cancer Early Detection Test Kit from TOPS.