Colon cancer screening should start at 45, Cancer Society says

Henrietta Brewer
June 2, 2018

Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most commonly diagnosed cancer among adults and the second-leading cause of cancer death, in the United States.

Most of the nation's 140,000 annual cases and 50,000 deaths from colon and rectal cancer still occur among people over age 55.

Dr. Robin Mendelsohn of New York City's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center said the hospital has seen 4,000 new colorectal cancer patients younger than 50 in the last decade.

The group said people should get a colonoscopy at age 45 instead of the previous recommendation of 50. The cancer society estimates that in 2018, more than 97,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colon cancer and more than 43,000 will be diagnosed with rectal cancer.

How do I get screened? .

"In people born more recently, they're at four times the risk for rectal cancer than people born in the '50s (at the same age), for example, and double the risk of colon cancer", he said. Dr. Ahnen joined the National Colorectal Cancer Round Table (NCCRT) in 2009, has co-chaired the Family History Task Force since 2012 and joined the NCCRT Steering Committee in November of 2014. "There is a great deal of interest and a lot of research beginning to try to answer that question".


Weinstein noted that Cologuard is now approved for colon cancer screening for people between the ages of 50 and 84, adding that the company would need to run a separate trial for lower age groups.

"Be aware screening is important, screening can save their lives, screening can actually prevent colorectal cancer", said Church.

Currently, USPSTF, a government-backed independent panel that assesses the evidence for medical procedures, recommends screening from the age of 50.

"There's nothing to stop insurers from covering the tests starting at age 45, and some are likely to do so, but at this time insurers are not required to (and some might not) cover the cost of colorectal cancer screening before age 50". But she also pointed out that colorectal cancer rates are rising rapidly in adults younger than 45 and urged people to seek medical attention promptly if they experience "persistent and concerning gastrointestinal symptoms".

"We used to think that young colorectal cancer was genetically different than the disease found in older patients".

The reason: We don't know why but wonder whether it is obesity, diet, or the environment. That's clearly not the case, she says. Potential culprits include over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines, antibiotics and antidepressants, as well as multiple vitamins, probiotics and other dietary supplements.


The group is in the process of updating its screening guidelines, a spokesperson said.

The choices include three at-home kits that test stool for blood.

"They don't give me a prognosis, and I don't want one".

"It's done in the privacy of your own home", he says.

Six test options range from non-invasive to colonoscopies. "If you find the polyp, remove it, you never develop the cancer", Dr. Wender explains. Those at higher risk, due to their personal or family history, may be urged to get screening earlier or more often.

"A doctor goes over a patient" s x-ray, screening for colon cancer.


However, it's not certain that screening at age 45 will save more lives, according to Wolf. That's because the risk of colonoscopy among this elderly population can outweigh any benefit.

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