Colorectal cancer is the second most common cancer killer of Americans. Recently developed and tested methods of screening and surveillance can effectively diagnose and treat the disease in most patients before symptoms develop when the chance of cure is high. It is also possible to prevent colorectal cancer by detecting and resecting premalignant adenomatous polyps. Evidence-based guidelines recommend that the average-risk population greater than age 50 be screened with annual faecal occult blood tests plus periodic flexible sigmoidoscopy. This approach is feasible, efficacious, affordable and cost-effective in a high-risk country such as the US. Widespread compliance with these recommendations could reduce the mortality from this malignancy by more than 50%.