If you are age 45 or older and haven’t had a colorectal cancer screening yet, then it’s time to make your colon health a priority. Recent research has shown a significant increase in colon cancer rates among adults younger than age 55. In response to this increase, the American Cancer Society (ACS) issued new guidelines for colorectal cancer screening in 2018. Colon cancer and cancer of the rectum is the second deadliest cancer among U.S. adults.
The new colorectal cancer guidelines are:
- For people at average risk for colorectal cancer: Screening should start at age 45. In previous guidelines, the starting age was 50.
- For people at high risk for colorectal cancer: Screening may need to start sooner, as recommended by your health care provider. Factors that increase your risk include:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer
- A personal history of colon polyps (noncancerous growths that may turn into cancer over time)
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis)
- A family history of colorectal cancer
Earlier Screening Can Save Lives
“Screening can find colorectal cancer at an early stage, when it may be easier to treat,” says Matthew Sullivan, MD, Chief, Gastroenterology, Norwood Hospital. “Even better, screening may help prevent colon cancer by finding and removing polyps during a colonoscopy.”
After reviewing research on colorectal cancer screening, ACS experts found that lowering the starting age to 45 will save additional lives.
There are several tests that may be used to screen for colorectal cancer screening. They include:
- Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test (FIT) every year
- Highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (gFOBT) every year
- Multi-targeted stool DNA test (MT-sDNA) every three years
- Colonoscopy every 10 years, or as recommended by your doctor
- CT colonography (virtual colonoscopy) every five years
If you’re age 45 or older, or if you’re younger but in a high-risk group, talk with your health care provider about getting screened for colorectal cancer and which test is the best recommendation for you.
When it comes to finding and preventing colorectal cancer, sooner is much better than later.
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*Source: American Cancer Society, https://www.cancer.org