The American Cancer Society recommends that adults undergo colorectal cancer screening starting at age 45, opposed to the long-observed threshold of age 50. The new guidelines were published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.
This shift affects nearly 22 million Americans who fall within the 45-to-49 age range.
Like most cancers, colon cancer is easier to treat the sooner it is detected. The longer you wait—even a few years, as this update implies—the greater the risk of the cancer progressing.
Doctors are quick to note that colon cancer can occur at any age, even in teens.
Colon cancer is the second-highest cause of cancer deaths among adults in the United States. The disease kills over 50,000 people each year.
According to a study from the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer rates have been rising for every generation born after 1950.
As a way to encourage more people to get tested, the American Cancer Society suggested a few different screening options for doctors to promote.
These options include lab tests, stool samples and colonoscopies. The last option being the most invasive.
What Does This Mean for Me?
If you are 45 years old or older, you should speak with your doctor about what is right for you. Keep in mind that there are a number of screening options besides a colonoscopy if you are worried about taking time off work.
Remember that waiting only increases the risk of cancer progressing. Don’t wait to speak with your doctor about colorectal screening if you have any concerns, regardless of your age.