The American Cancer Society recently released data supporting a new question as to why colorectal screenings should start at age 45 for those with average risks. Prior to these new findings, the ACS recommended that adults with average risk for colon cancer should begin screening at age 50.
So why the change?
More Colon Cancer Cases in Younger Age Groups
That fact should get your attention, especially if you are a millennial. This increased incidence of colon cancer in younger adults is a significant red flag. Researchers have discovered that adults born around 1990 have a higher risk of colon cancer, as well as four times higher risk for rectal cancer, whereas those born around 1950 have the lowest risk.
The Sooner Colon Cancer Is Detected, the Better
By having earlier colorectal screenings, your provider may find precancerous polyps or even detect colon cancer at an earlier stage rather than an advanced stage. Earlier detection of cancer and beginning the treatment early will not only saves lives, but will reduce healthcare costs.
What About Starting Screenings Before 45?
These new recommendations refer to adults with average risk for colon cancer. Those with a higher risk should speak with a specialist and not only be screened earlier than age 45, but should also have more frequent screenings. Those at a higher risk include:
- Persons with a family history of colon cancer
- Anyone with a personal history of colon cancer
- Individuals with a personal history of irritable bowel disease or ulcerative colitis
- Those with a personal history of radiation treatments of the abdomen or pelvis to treat other cancers
Types of Colorectal Screenings, Standards, & Options
Whether you have stool based tests once a year or visual tests like a colonoscopy every 5 years, don’t procrastinate or avoid the process.
If you are in good health, you should continue to be screened through age 75. Between ages 76 – 85, decide in consultation with your provider. After age 85 colorectal screenings are no longer recommended.
We think it’s clear why colorectal screenings should start at age 45. If you fall into the millennial generation, schedule a screening soon.