American Cancer Society recommends earlier colorectal cancer screening

American Cancer Society recommends earlier colorectal cancer screening

"Cologuard is already one of the American Cancer Society's recommended colorectal cancer screening tests".

The American Cancer Society changed their recommended age to begin screening for colorectal cancer to age 45.

A group representing three professional societies of gastroenterologists said in 2017 that African Americans should start screening at 45, because they are at increased risk, but that others should wait until age 50.

"But as we saw data pointing to a persistent trend of increasing colorectal cancer incidence in younger adults, including American Cancer Society research that indicated this effect would carry forward with increasing age, we chose to re-evaluate the age to initiate screening in all USA adults", he said.

"We're deeply concerned about this trend", says Dr. Richard Wender of the American Cancer Society.

Guidelines from other groups still recommend age 50 as the screening starting point for most people.

A colonoscopy is not the only effective screening tool.

"The American Cancer Society should be praised for taking a critical step toward helping more Americans get screened for colorectal cancer and potentially detecting the disease earlier", said Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy.

By contrast, the cancer society said the tests are equally acceptable - though worrisome results on any test other than a colonoscopy need to be followed up with a colonoscopy.

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For younger adults like Gale Fritsche, now 55, of Allentown, Pennsylvania, existing recommendations fell short. In its new recommendations, the cancer society recommends choosing from one of six screening tests, which are also now recommended by other expert groups. They do, however, advise earlier screening for certain people at heightened risk - such as those with a strong family history of the disease.

Previously, 50 was the recommended screening age. "After reviewing this data, experts on the ACS Guideline Development Committee concluded that a beginning screening age of 45 for adults of average risk will result in more lives saved from colorectal cancer". The ACS has more information on colorectal cancer risk factors on its website.

The move comes as a study https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3322/caac.21457 showed that there has been a marked increase in colorectal cancer incidence, particularly rectal cancer, among younger individuals. In 2018, there were more than 2,500 new cases of colon and rectal cancer diagnosed in Wisconsin. She's the co-director of the recently established Center for Young Onset Colorectal Cancer there.

"It's clear that screening is working; the incidence and mortality from colorectal cancer have gone down in people over 50", Labow told MedPage Today.

"Even if you're younger, if you're noticing that there's a change in your bowel habits or your stools and that something isn't right, then see your doctor", he said.

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

"It's not just that you would catch the younger people with cancer but that you would actually catch the younger people with just a polyp that can be removed at the time of colonoscopy, and they never get a cancer".

She applauded the move toward earlier screening, saying it "will benefit the general public".

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