New Recommendation from the American Cancer Society: Start Colorectal Screening at Age 45
Cancer of the colon and rectum is the second deadliest cancer among U.S. adults. Recently, there has been a sharp rise in colorectal cancer cases among adults younger than age 55. In response, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has issued new guidelines for colorectal cancer screening:
- 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 doctor. Factors that increase your risk include:
- A personal history of colorectal cancer, certain polyps (noncancerous growths that may turn into cancer over time), or inflammatory bowel disease
- A strong 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. Even better, screening may prevent the cancer from developing by finding and removing polyps.
After reviewing research on colorectal cancer screening, ACS experts found that lowering the starting age to 45 will save additional lives. Not all organizations have updated their guidelines, however. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force still recommends a starting age of 50.
Several Test Options Are Available
The ACS guidelines say that several tests may be used to screen for colorectal cancer. If you’re age 45 or older, or if you’re younger but in a high-risk group, talk with your doctor about getting screened and which test is right for you.
Don’t put off this crucial conversation. When it comes to finding colorectal cancer, sooner is much better than later.
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