Colorectal cancer takes time to develop and goes through different stages of polyp growth. Detection and removal of early-stage polyps can prevent the development of cancer. Even when cancer has developed, treatment of early-stage cancer has a very high success rate. Regular colon check-ups are essential in preventing colorectal cancer.
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT) is a simple test where a stool sample is collected at home before sending for further laboratory tests. It checks for hidden blood in stool samples, which can be a sign of cancer, polyps or other internal disorders.
Flexible sigmoidoscopy is a procedure using a flexible, lit tube to inspect the interior walls of the rectum and the lower colon.
Colonoscopy is a similar procedure to flexible sigmoidoscopy except that the flexible, lit tube is long enough to view the entire colon.
Double-contrast barium enema is an X-ray examination that allows a radiologist to view the entire colon.



Detecting and treating cancer early and removing precancerous colorectal polyps will help reduce the number of deaths from colorectal cancer.
Doctors recommend regular screenings for all adults aged 50 or above.

There are many options, depending on your budget and personal health situation. For more information or medical advice, please consult your doctor.

Name   Method   Recommended interval
Fecal occult blood test (FOBT)   A simple procedure that checks for hidden blood in stool samples, which can be a sign of cancer, polyps, or other internal disorders   Every year
Flexible sigmoidoscopy   A procedure using a flexible, lit tube to inspect the interior walls of the rectum and the lower colon   Every 5 years
Double-contrast barium enema   An X-ray examination that allows a radiologist to view the entire colon. Contrast material needs to be infused into the colon through a small tube placed in the anus before taking the X-ray   Every 5 years
Colonoscopy   A procedure similar to flexible sigmoidoscopy except that the flexible, lit tube is long enough to view the entire colon   Every 10 years

High-risk individuals (those with personal or family history of colorectal cancer or polyps) should begin screening at an earlier age and may need to be screened more frequently. Consult your doctor for recommendations.

Colorectal cancer is the most common cancer in Hong Kong. The Department of Health will launch a three-year Colorectal Cancer Screening Pilot Programme in the second half of 2016 to curb morbidity and mortality due to colorectal cancer. Citizens aged 61 to 70 are eligible to receive subsidy from the government to undergo Faecal Immunochemical Test (FIT), a new version of Faecal Occult Blood Test (FOBT), which can detect invisible and small amounts of blood in the stool. If the FOBT is positive, a referral for a colonoscopy will be made. Where polyps are found, they will be removed for further analysis.

In contrast to Hong Kong, US health department authorities recommend colorectal cancer screening regularly, with frequency depending on the type of test conducted. Screening the general population includes a faecal occult blood test (FOBT) once a year or once every two years, flexible sigmoidoscopy (FS) once every 5 years or colonoscopy once every 10 years, beginning at age 50 and continuing until age 75.

Similarly, the UK government recommends that colorectal (bowel) cancer screening using FOBT should be offered to men and women above 50. The frequency of screening recommended by the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK is that men and women between the ages of 60 to 75 should undergo an FOBT every 2 years.

Most family doctors and private hospitals in Hong Kong provide colorectal screening and testing services. If you are aged 50 or above, or are under 50 but have a family history of colorectal cancer, contact your family doctor to arrange for a check-up. If your results indicate a possibility of colorectal cancer, you can approach public hospitals for further examinations and tests.
Early colorectal cancer has no symptoms and can go unnoticed. A simple, regular check-up can help to prevent colorectal cancer.