Mujer vestida de verdeColorectal cancer is the fourth most common cancer, with more than 240,000 people newly diagnosed and approximately 112,000 people dying from this disease each year, in the Americas. The highest colorectal cancer incidence rates are observed in Canada, Uruguay and Barbados; while the countries in Central America have the lowest rates. If no action is taken, colorectal cancer incidence is expected to have a 60% increase by 2030.

Colorectal cancer can be detected at early stages, as it develops from non-malignant precursor lesions which can be identified through population based screening programs. Although guidelines vary by country, colorectal cancer screening is generally recommended, in an average risk population, to begin at age 50 years and continue at regular intervals until age 75. Screening tests include high-sensitivity fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, or colonoscopy.

Regardless of the screening test, to be effective, an organized population based screening program is needed with established processes and procedures for quality assurance and monitoring of performance standards.

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