June 4, 2018
ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The American Cancer Society recently released new recommendations for colorectal cancer screening, saying people of average risk of colorectal cancer should begin regular screening at age 45 (previous recommendations said to begin at age 50). The Prevent Cancer Foundation® supports this change, as there has been a significant increase in colorectal cancer diagnoses in people under 50 in recent years.
Thanks to screening tools such as colonoscopies, the number of people being diagnosed with colorectal cancer has consistently declined over the past 30 years. However, it is on the rise in young people, who are more likely to detect colorectal cancer in later stages and may be unprepared to navigate a disease that was completely unexpected. Beginning regular screening at age 45 will help to prevent some of these cancers or detect them early, when successful treatment is more likely.
Those at increased risk for colorectal cancer may need to begin screening earlier or be screened more frequently. Risk factors include smoking, being overweight or obese, drinking alcohol in excess, eating a lot of red meat or processed meat, and having a personal or family history of colorectal cancer, colorectal polyps, or inflammatory bowel disease (like ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease).
A colonoscopy is the “gold standard” for colorectal cancer screening, but the best test is the one that gets done. Other options include stool DNA test (sDNA), fecal immunochemical test (FIT), high-sensitivity guaiac-based fecal occult blood test (FOBT), virtual colonoscopy or flexible sigmoidoscopy. Talk to your health care professional about which screening test is right for you. If you’re 75 or older, ask your health care professional if you still need to be screened.
For more information on colorectal cancer risk factors, prevention and early detection, visit our colorectal cancer page.