Why the Recommended Age for Routine Colorectal Cancer Screenings Was Recently Lowered to Age 45

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In 2020, it’s estimated that doctors will diagnose more than 100,000 new cases of colon cancer. When detected and treated in the early stages before it has spread, colon cancer has a 90% survival rate.

In the past it was recommended that you start screening for colon cancer at age 50. However, the American Cancer Society has released updated guidelines that lower the recommended age for colon cancer screening. The updated guidelines reflect a review of decades of statistics that suggest most adults should begin screening for colon cancer at age 45.

Why the change?

The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) reviewed decades of statistics that show a sharp increase in colon cancer in adults under the age of 50. Preventive health screenings can detect abnormal changes in the colon, as well as polyps and tumors. This suggests that early screening can help detect colon cancer sooner and improve the chances of successful treatment and cure.

Certain risk factors, including lifestyle and genetics, raise the risk for developing chronic health conditions, including colon cancer. As lifestyles have changed in the last few decades, the recommended age for certain preventive health screenings require review and revision to reflect the factors that influence our current day-to-day lives.

Recommendations for African Americans

African Americans have higher rates of colon cancer than people of other ethnic backgrounds. Statistics indicate that earlier colon cancer detection in African Americans can significantly reduce death from the disease. For this reason, the ACG recommends that African Americans begin screening at age 45 and can even start at age 40.

People with a family history of colorectal cancer

If a parent, sibling, or other close relative has had colorectal cancer, it’s recommended that you begin screening at age 45. Again, early detection is key to improving the chances of survival. Colon cancer often causes no symptoms until it has progressed. Earlier screening, diagnostic testing, and treatment gives you the best chance of successfully treating the cancer.

Existing conditions

Certain medical conditions raise your chances of developing colon cancer. If you have any of the following conditions, it’s recommended that you have a colonoscopy screening every 2-3 years:

Individual patient risk

One of the most important aspects of preventing chronic disease is having regular check-ups with your health care provider. While the ACG provides general guidelines, it’s important to note that recommendations based on individual risk factors are the best way to prevent disease.

When you visit us at Gastroenterology Consultants of West Houston, board-certified gastroenterologist Dr. Hyon Kang provides a comprehensive evaluation and makes individualized recommendations for colorectal screening based on your specific background, medical history, and other factors. For some individuals, this means you may receive a recommendation to screen earlier than age 45.

Regular screening is the best way to prevent colon cancer. To learn more and to schedule a visit with Dr. Kang at our office in Katy, Texas, call 281-729-5758 to speak with one of our team members today. Or you can click the “request appointment” button to get the process started.

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