Today the American Cancer Society released new recommendations for average risk adults to start colorectal cancer screening at age 45. This update is being made as a response to the rise in incidence of young onset colorectal cancer.
“As an organization focused on preventative screening, this is great news,” says Anne Carlson, executive director of the Colon Cancer Coalition. “This change moves the conversation between providers and patients to an earlier age, and will hopefully drive home that colorectal cancer is on the rise in young adults. It starts to broaden the shift in understanding of this disease within health care, insurance providers, and unknowing young adults. Under these new guidelines, over 21 million Americans ages 45-49 are now encouraged to begin preventative screening.”
The recommendations are directed at adults with an average risk of developing colorectal cancer. As always, people with family history and other risk factors for colorectal cancer should talk to their care team about the appropriate time and screening option for them. Anytime you are experiencing symptoms or have concerns, do not hesitate to talk with your health care provider.
The new guidelines from the American Cancer Society include recommendations for screening to begin at 45 and continuing through age 85:
- Starting at age 45, offering patients one of six different screening options. This update does not put a priority on these screening options, but leaves the decision up to a patient and their physician. (A FIT or FOBT every year, stool DNA every 3 years, a CT colonography or flexible sigmoidoscopy every 5 years, or colonoscopy every 10 years.)
- Following a positive result from a “noncolonoscopy” screening test, a follow-up colonoscopy should be performed.
- Average risk adults should continue screening through the age of 75.
- Individual decisions should be made between a patient and provider from age 76 to 85 based on “patient preferences, life expectancy, health status, and prior screening history.”
- After age 85, individuals should be discouraged from continued screening.
Gale Fritsche, our Tour de Tush – Allentown volunteer event director, shared his story of colorectal cancer diagnosis at age 50 with the New York Times. Gale was diagnosed at stage III following his doctor’s recommendation for a colonoscopy at age 50. With these new recommendations, Gale’s story could have been much different and his cancer caught 5 years earlier.
The game changer quote from Dr. Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer for the American Cancer Society from today’s New York Times article:
- In 2018 approximately 16,450 new cases of colon and rectal cancers will be diagnosed in American alone.
- In colorectal cancer cases under the age of 50, 43% of them were diagnosed in patients between 45 and 49 years old.
- While 90% of all colorectal cancer patients are diagnosed over 50, between 1994 and 2014 there was a 50% rise in colorectal cancer rates in adults under 50.
We are so excited about the announcement from the American Cancer Society and appreciate all their work and efforts that went into these new recommendations.