American Cancer Society: Start colon cancer screenings at 45, not 50


The American Cancer Society issued a report July 11 stating individuals should get screened for colon and rectal cancers starting at age 45, instead of age 50, due to an increased number of colon and rectal cancer case in younger people.

Andrew Wolf, PhD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, lead the group in making the new recommendation. The group decided to lower the screening age after reviewing new data, which showed colon and rectal cancers have increased by 51 percent in adults under 50 since 1994.

"We don't know why it's going on," Dr. Wolf told USA Today. "But it's increasingly clear that it is happening."

While cases and deaths of colon and rectal cancer are falling in older adults, a majority of the country's 140,000 annual cases and 50,000 deaths attributed to the cancers happen in patients over age 55. The proportion of rectal cancer cases involving younger patients has risen to 29 percent, while colon cancer cases have increased  to 17 percent .

"[W]e hope doctors will look at this and at least start discussions of colorectal cancer screening with their 45-year-old patients," Dr. Wolf told USA Today.

The final discussion is now left up to insurers, as  some are not willing to cover testing for younger patients.  

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