Colorectal cancer screenings should start at 45, new guidelines say

Colonoscopy

Colon cancer screening should begin at 45-American Cancer Society

Although colorectal cancer rates have declined over the past two decades in people age 55 and older due to screening, there has been a 51 percent increase in colorectal cancer among those under 50 since 1994, the report says.

For years, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other medical groups have advised people at average risk of colon and rectal cancer to begin screening at age 50.

The study then compared screening strategies starting at ages 40, 45 and 50 and stopping at ages 75, 80 and 85.

Why the change in screening?

However, it's not certain that screening at age 45 will save more lives, according to Wolf. A family history of colorectal cancer, a personal history with colorectal cancer and a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease are some of the risk factors to consider.

Across America, our Never Too Young Advisory Board will work tirelessly to educate primary care physicians and gastrointestinal medical professionals around symptoms of young-onset colorectal cancer.

The new recommendations should bring greater attention to the value of screening, says Mendelsohn, who suggests that future studies investigate whether even younger people - in their early 40s or even 30s - should be screened.

The influential Preventive Services Task Force decided against lowering the screening age to 45 when it updated its recommendations in 2016 and continues to recommend starting routine screening at 50. Others include a yearly stool test looking for hidden blood, or a DNA-based stool test done every three years.

In a written statement Wednesday, the American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network, the nonpartisan advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, said that consumers should understand what their individual insurance policy will cover should they begin screening at age 45, rather than age 50. Colorectal cancer has not been linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause anal cancer, as well as cervical, throat, penile and other types of cancer.

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Many researchers believe that diet and exercise are linked to colon cancer, but Dr. Baber said nobody knows yet why it is showing up more frequently in younger patients.

"It's clear that screening is working; the incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer have gone down in people over 50", Labow told MedPage Today.

Dr. Nilofer Saba Azad, associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, agrees with the newly updated guidelines.

Every year in the United States, about 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed and over 50,000 Americans will die from the disease.

"We're deeply concerned about this trend", says Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society.

The ACS paper said colonoscopies, visual tests and a high-sensitivity stool-based test are effective means of detecting colorectal cancer.

She applauded the move toward earlier screening, saying it "will benefit the general public".

Such risks include false-negative or false-positive results, as well as rare complications or feelings of anxiety with more invasive testing approaches, such as colonoscopy.

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