The best colorectal cancer screening is the one a patient will do

The best colorectal cancer screening is the one a patient will do

1 in 3

Nearly 1 in 3 eligible U.S. adults is not up to date on colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.

  • National Goals 80%
  • CRC Screening 67.9%

Despite having several effective screening tests, CRC screening rates remain below national goals.

  1. Lung Cancer
  2. Colorectal Cancer
  3. Pancreatic Cancer

As a result, colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second most frequent cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S.

Colonoscopy is still the top choice

A survey of 779 primary care providers and 159 gastroenterologists administered in late 2019 showed colonoscopy was still favored by both groups by the following percentages.

  • 75.7% primary care providers
  • 96.9% gastroenterologists

Other preferred CRC screening methods for primary care providers

  • 12.2% multitarget stool DNA (mt-sDNA)
  • 7.3% fecal immunochemical test (FIT)
  • 4.8% Guaiac fecal occult blood test (gFOBT)

Primary care providers are starting to choose noninvasive screening options

A Mayo Clinic survey showed that nearly 1 in 4 primary care providers now prefers noninvasive colorectal cancer screening options.

"We need to tailor our colorectal screening recommendations to the preferences of our patients and offer new, less invasive options to encourage screening." Tanios S. Bekaii-Saab, M.D. Gastrointestinal medical oncologist at Mayo Clinic Comprehensive Cancer Center in Arizona.

Considerations for colorectal cancer screening

Recommendations of primary care providers and gastroenterologists strongly influence whether patients are screened and what type of screening they choose.

With both direct visualization and noninvasive screening options available, shared decision-making between the provider and patient is important.

Preferences of primary care providers shifted toward noninvasive options in general, and particularly for:

  • Patients who were unwilling to undergo invasive procedures
  • Patients concerned about taking time off from work
  • Patients unconvinced about the need for screening
  • Patients who refused other screening recommendations

Adherence to screening

  • Less
  • Invasive
  • Noninvasive
  • More

The practice of recommending only colonoscopy may reduce the number of patients who undergo screening.

Offering noninvasive screening options is associated with greater adherence to screening.

Healthy conversations encourage screenings

Shared decision-making between the patient and the provider is important for adherence to colorectal cancer screening. With new technologies and screening tests, the best colorectal cancer screening is the one a patient will follow through with. Discuss with patients their options, hear their concerns, and help them find a screening that works for them.

Refer a patient

You can refer patients to Mayo Clinic securely online using the CareLink referral portal at To refer over the phone, contact your Mayo Clinic location.

  • Phoenix/Scottsdale, Arizona: 866-629-6362
  • Rochester, Minnesota: 800-533-1564
  • Jacksonville, Florida: 800-634-1417

For more information

  • Data & progress. National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable.
  • Rutten LJF, et al. Health care provider characteristics associated with colorectal cancer screening preferences and use. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2022;97:101.
  • Source material: Furst J. Primary care clinicians adjust recommendations for colorectal cancer screening to accommodate patient needs and preferences, study finds. Mayo Clinic.