Regular screenings are important for early detection of colorectal cancer. Up until now, regular screenings have been recommended to those over 50. New guidelines from the American Cancer Society state that recommendations have been reduced to age 45 for the first screening.
Over 140,000 Americans receive a colorectal cancer diagnosis each year and 50,000 people die from the disease each year. Though the majority of people with the disease are still over 50, cases are increasing each year in people under 50.
Is colorectal cancer really impacting young adults?
Colorectal cancer is no longer a disease for the older generation as it once was. It has been growing among young adults as well. In 2014, 43 percent of new cases were among those between 45 and 49, but it seems that cases are on the rise among people as young as their 20s and 30s as well.
The National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable has found that since there is a dramatic increase in colon cancer for those between age 40 and 49, reducing the age for screening guidelines could save thousands of lives across the country. Other organizations, such as the Preventative Services Task Force, however, are still recommending ages 50 and over for a regular screening.
Screening procedures can remove precancerous cells and can also detect possible cancer. Early detection can lead to treatment at an early stage and more successful outcomes.
How and why should I get screened?
Colonoscopy is the most commonly used screening technology and is the gold standard. In most cases is done every 10 years.
Other options include fecal immunochemical testing (FIT), a stool blood test, flexible sigmoidoscopy (flex-sig), virtual colonoscopy (CT colonoscopy) and barium enema with air contrast. These techniques are not as effective as colonoscopy in detecting pre-cancerous growths in the colon and the colonoscopy should be the first option in screening for colorectal cancer.
Since rates of colon cancer under age 45 are still relatively low, the group does not recommend routine screening for all people under 45 at this time. But in certain cases, based on someone’s health or family history, doctors may still recommend screening at a younger age.
Besides screening, steps toward prevention are also extremely important. Reducing or eliminating processed foods and refined sugar, eating a fiber-rich, whole food diet with lots of greens, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes and whole grains, can improve your overall gut health and reduce your risks of colorectal cancer.
Are you happy about the new screening guidelines? What are you doing to reduce your risks of colorectal cancer?