New colorectal cancer screening guidelines: Get screened earlier, expand testing options

Colorectal cancer is the fourth most common non-cutaneous cancer in America and the second leading cause of cancer death. But for many adults at moderate or low risk, colorectal cancer can be screened early and treated with positive results simply by following an appropriate screening regimen. In response to rising incidence rates, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has developed new guidelines designed to encourage more adults to get tested early and take advantage of a wider range of tests. .

Concerned by data showing that the rate of colorectal cancer among young Americans is increasing sharply, the ACS recommends that all adults at medium or low risk be screened for the disease at age 45 instead of age 50, as it recommended it before. Adults in good health, with a medium risk and a life expectancy of more than 10 years, should continue screening up to 75 years, recommends the ACS. People over 76 should talk to their doctor about a screening program. Men and women at high risk, such as patients with a family history of colorectal cancer, may require a more aggressive screening program.

Two-thirds of all colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed in adults aged 55 to 84, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute 2011-2015. However, a study published in the 2017 Journal of the National Cancer Institute revealed that the number of colorectal cancer diagnoses has increased significantly among young adults over the last 20 years. In fact, "the risk of age-specific colorectal cancer has risen to the level of those born around 1890 (…), highlighting the need for increased awareness among clinicians and the general public," note the authors of the study.

CHA also recommends that physicians offer patients a wider range of colorectal cancer screening tests to choose from, in the hope that more choices will result in more screenings. "Sending to the saying that the best screening test is the one that is done and that is done well, the ACS recommends that patients … be offered a choice of tests based on the availability of tests. High quality options, "said the organization by updating its guidelines. "We hope that the widespread adoption of this directive will have a major impact on the incidence, suffering and mortality caused by colorectal cancer." The ACS advises patients to follow up with colonoscopy if they receive positive results from tests other than colonoscopy.

RECOMMENDATIONS INCLUDE (Source: American Cancer Society)

  • Fecal immunochemical test every year
  • Hypersensitivity, occult blood test in guaiac-based stool every year
  • Multi-target stool DNA test (Cologuard) every three years
  • Endoscopic examinations or imaging
  • Colonoscopy every 10 years
  • CT colonography every five years
  • Flexible Sigmoidoscopy every five years

By reducing the age recommended for colorectal screening and increasing the number of screening options, the ACS hopes to reduce incidence rates and catch the disease early enough to improve outcomes for more patients. "We have known in recent years that colorectal cancer rates in people over 50, for whom screening is available, have dropped significantly, while colon cancer rates in patients under 50 years of age have increased dramatically, "said Jeffrey Weber, MD, a Gastroenterologist at our Phoenix hospital. "We have long advocated testing for African Americans aged 45 and over because they are at greater risk of contracting the disease, and I believe that starting to screen the rest of the population at age 45 will save many lives. "

Get more facts about colorectal cancer.

This content is sponsored by Cancer Treatment Centers of America

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