Published: Sat, June 02, 2018
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Cancer group says colon screening should start at age 45, not 50

Cancer group says colon screening should start at age 45, not 50

"I'm thrilled that the American Cancer Society has responded and revised its guidelines, lowering the recommended age to start screening to 45".

Dr. Baber said he was not surprised it would issue the new guidelines. Vital signs: colorectal cancer tests saves lives.

While they differ on the age of first screening, both groups suggest that screening over age 75 should be a joint decision between patient and doctor.

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The rate of colorectal cancer among the 50-to-54 age group, even with a decline over the past several years, remains higher than among those who are 45 to 49; that partly reflects the start of screening at 50, which leads to detection of the disease and allows people in the older group to be identified as having colorectal cancer.

If the test is positive, a colonoscopy is recommended, Wender says, but only one in five people test positive for blood in their stool.

Wolf is a part of the society's Guideline Development Group, which reviews new research and tries to weigh the advantages of cancer screenings against their potential side effects or harm.

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The American College of Gastroenterology already recommends that black people begin at age 45, due to their relatively higher risk. It is the first organization that has recommended that average risk colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in the USA should begin at age 45 rather than 50 for both men and women and for all races and ethnicities. In 2018, there were more than 2,500 new cases of colon and rectal cancer diagnosed in Wisconsin. We plan to invest $10 million in critical research by 2021, which will include learning why we are seeing an increase in young-onset colorectal cancer, doubling the number of constituents we serve, and saving 100,000 lives by 2026 through increased screening. "It took us two years of work to provide a compelling argument and evidence that the screening age for everyone should begin at age 45, not age 50". In its report, it found that colon cancer is up more than 50 percent in people under 50. Historically, African-Americans, Native Americans and Native Alaskans have had higher rates of these types of cancer. They say recently, they've been diagnosing colon cancer in younger patients than in years past. It updated its colon cancer guidelines in 2016 and its next review isn't expected until around 2021.

Other health organizations in the United States - such as the US Preventive Services Task Force - still recommend routine screening for colon and rectal cancers starting at age 50. Those with a family history or a history of inflammatory bowel disease such as Ulcerative Colitis may need to start much younger.

She said rates are not only increasing among people in their 40s, but also among those in their 20s and 30s (though the incidence at those ages remains low). "So it's preventative, not just early diagnosis", she said, adding that she thinks the risks of screening younger outweigh the benefits.

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"It's hard enough to get people to do it at all", Plescia noted.

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