The American Cancer Society has just updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, lowering the age people at average risk should begin screening from 50 to 45.
Colon cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in the US. A primary goal goal of screening is to find the disease as early as possible when it’s small and easier to treat, since early stage colorectal cancer has a 90% survival rate.
“Equally important, screening can identify pre-cancerous polyps that may take up to a decade to become cancerous,” explains CMI Medical Director, Dr. Mark Baganz. “When these benign polyps are found and removed early enough, we can actually prevent cancer from ever occurring.”
A study released in 2017 that found a rise in colon and rectal cancers among younger adults, played a key role in the decision to update these recommendations. According to Stacy Simon, Senior Editor of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “The numbers showed that new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among younger adults. Beginning screening at an age of 45 for adults of average risk will result in more lives saved.”
“Of the many types of colon cancer screening tests currently available, there are three with sufficient accuracy to recommend routinely: fiberoptic (traditional) colonoscopy, CT (virtual) colonography, and stool DNA testing (i.e. Cologuard). Whichever test you and your doctor choose, the critical message here is to get screened.”