American Cancer Society recommends colon cancer screening at 45 - not 50


To their credit - and reflecting the emphasis in the ACS news release announcing the guidelines - most stories generally did a good job of discussing noninvasive colorectal cancer screening options like blood and stool tests.

The group lowered its guidelines after research clearly showed people are getting colorectal cancer at younger and younger ages in the U.S.

Dr. Cedrek McFadden is a physician with GHS.

The American Cancer Society said this week that even people who expect to live at least ten years longer should continue the testing until they're 75.

Rates of colon and rectal cancers are rising quickly among young people - from 1991 to 2014, rectal cancer rates for people between the ages of 20 and 49 doubled.

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The American Cancer Society is now recommending that people start their colorectal screenings at age 45 instead of 50.

"The rationale for screening at an earlier age is that the incidence of colorectal cancer is higher [than in the past]... so there are more cancers to be found by screening", he wrote in an email. Routine screenings can also help doctors find colon cancer early when it is easier to treat.

But about one-third of people over 50 never get screened. That's because most screening studies have included only adults 50 and older.

According to Elena Ivanina, a gastroenterologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in NY, the 51 percent increase in colorectal cancer among those under age 50 since 1994 is an "alarming" trend. The American College of Radiology (ACR) has issued a statement of its own, highlighting the benefits of virtual colonoscopy, an ACS-approved colorectal cancer screening method.

The recommendation is a qualified one with the ACS previous recommendation from 2008 that such screening begin at 50 remaining a strong recommendation as results verifying the effectiveness of screening those between 45 to 50 is limited.

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The American Cancer Society endorses six kinds of screening exams, from low-priced take-home stool tests performed every year to colonoscopies done every 10 years. The updated recommendations are published early online in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society. "With screening the actual age of diagnosis is moving downward".

Another option is a multitarget stool DNA test, which is done every three years and involves collecting a sample at home and sending it in. She said that test needs to be done every year and should be followed up with a colonoscopy if there are any positive results.

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.

Researchers believe the rise in colon cancer incidents are due to the obesity epidemic in our country, environmental factors and eating large amounts of processed foods like canned meat.

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