IBD and colon cancer: How often do you need screening?

By Mayo Clinic Staff

You may be worried about the connection between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colon cancer if you have IBD, which includes Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. It's important to understand that while IBD increases your risk of colon cancer, it doesn't necessarily lead to colon cancer.

There are several common colon cancer screening tests — including colonoscopy, virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography), fecal occult blood test and flexible sigmoidoscopy. The best screening test for people with Crohn's disease that affects the lower part of the colon is colonoscopy. This screening test uses a long, flexible and slender tube attached to a video camera and monitor to view your entire colon and rectum. If any suspicious areas are found, your doctor can pass surgical tools through the tube to take tissue samples (biopsies) for analysis.

General colon cancer screening guidelines for people without IBD call for a colonoscopy every 10 years beginning at age 50. However, depending on how long you've had IBD and how much of your colon is involved, you may need a colonoscopy as often as every one to two years. Talk to your doctor about the best colon cancer screening schedule for your particular situation.

July 20, 2019 See more In-depth