Last week, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force amended the recommended age at which colon cancer screening should begin, lowering the age from 50 years old to 45 years old.
The move to lower the initial screen for colon cancer screening to 45 years old was prompted by recent studies showing the rising rate of colorectal cancer in younger adults.
“Recent studies showing a rising incident in individuals aged 45 to 49 drew our attention to that age group,” said Dr. John Wong, a member of the task force and chief scientific officer at Tufts Medical Center.
New Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
The new recommendations fall in line with the recommendations issued two years ago by the American Cancer Society, but the new guidelines should help make it far more likely that colon cancer screenings tests will be covered by insurance for individuals in that 45-49 age range. These new recommendations hope to help patients catch colon cancer sooner when it is most treatable, because colorectal cancer can be deadly if caught at a more advanced state. It is currently the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the US, and roughly 1 in 10 colorectal cancers are found in patients under 50.
As we talked about when we shared the sad news of the passing of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman, it’s not just younger people who are at risk for colon cancer, it’s minority groups. African Americans are more likely to develop and die from colorectal cancer than any other racial or ethnic group, and the new guidelines could help to reduce the likelihood that these new cases prove fatal.
So if you are in your forties, start thinking about getting that first colonoscopy on your calendar. It’s never as bad as people imagine, and it’s far preferred than dealing with advanced stage colorectal cancer. Even if you don’t have an ethnic or familial connection to colorectal cancer, everyone gets older, which means your risk of colon cancer will continue to increase. Be proactive and take steps to catch small growths when they can still be fully treated.
For more information, or to learn more about scheduling your colonoscopy, reach out to Dr. Bhatti and the team at Bhatti GI Consultants today.