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

03 June 2018

As a result, testing could be offered earlier or more often in groups of people at risk (risk-adapted screening).

As younger patients get screened, there will be more data on how doing so affects colon and rectal cancer disease rates. Doctors should discourage anyone over age 85 from screening, the cancer society said.

"In people born more recently, they're at four times the risk for rectal cancer than people born in the '50s (at the same age), for example, and double the risk of colon cancer", he said. As they age, younger adults will continue to have an elevated risk, compared with previous generations, studies suggest.

"The number of patients being diagnosed prior to the age of 50 has increased significantly", said Dr. Bert O'Neil, medical oncologist at IU Health.

"I have come across so many people - whether it is survivors, patients, or families of patients - and so many of them are in their 30s and 40s", said Sanford. It also categorized tests for the 45-50 age group as a "qualified recommendation" and tests for those over 50 as a "strong recommendation". It concluded that the data was mixed and that a younger starting age would provide only a "modest" benefit. "The stigma is that this is a disease of older people and that is definitely changing". Even though that initial screening comes at an earlier age, he says it doesn't automatically mean it will be a colonoscopy.

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If you're in your mid-forties, you might want to start thinking about scheduling a colorectal cancer screening, according new guidelines announced by the American Cancer Society.

Colorectal cancer is the fourth-most-common cancer diagnosed among adults in the United States. Early detection can help prevent colon cancer from forming; it is up to 40% preventable. But there has been a 51 percent increase in colorectal cancer among those under 50 since 1994.

The colon is also known as the large intestine; the rectum is the part of the intestine that descends from the colon to the anus. He said both men and women should be screened.

Those strategies were undergoing colonoscopy every 10 years; a computed tomography colonography or "virtual colonoscopy" every five years; a flexible sigmoidoscopy every five years; a multitarget stool DNA test every three years; a take-home fecal immunochemical test annually; or a take-home high-sensitivity guaiac fecal occult blood test annually. The cancer organization believes that the underlying risk of the younger group is probably close to that of the older group. That change has been attributed to healthy lifestyle changes and more widespread screening.

Dr. Nilofer Saba Azad, associate professor of oncology at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, agrees with the newly updated guidelines.

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