Health Care

Colon cancer screening should begin at 45-American Cancer Society

Colon cancer screening should begin at 45-American Cancer Society

Lari Johnston suspects she may not be alive today if she'd had her first colon cancer screening at age 50.

Screenings should begin at age 45, according to new guidelines the American Cancer Society released Wednesday.

So far, other groups are maintaining their recommendation that colon cancer screening start at age 50, including the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in disease prevention and evidence-based medicine.

The G-BA therefore commissioned the German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) to update a report from the year 2013 in an accelerated process known as "rapid report" on the following question: Can people under 55 years of age with a family history of colorectal cancer benefit from a screening test?

"All of these tests are good tests, and the choice should be offered to patients", said the cancer society's Dr.

Wolf is a part of the society's Guideline Development Group, which reviews new research and tries to weigh the advantages of cancer screenings against their potential side effects or harm.

The group does not recommend routine screening for those under 45 because the absolute rates of cancer in those age groups are still very low and there are risks associated with procedures like colonoscopies, including a perforated bowel. Those at higher risk, due to their personal or family history, may be urged to get screening earlier or more often.

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By contrast, the cancer society said the tests are equally acceptable - though worrisome results on any test other than a colonoscopy need to be followed up with a colonoscopy.

"At the time of the Task Force's review, there was limited data on screening adults younger than age 50". The new recommendations detail six screening options, which include kits that allow patients to collect a sample at home and send it directly to a lab that looks in the stool for microscopic blood-the presence of which would then likely necessitate a colonoscopy. "So lowering the screening age to 45 will benefit all groups". Exact Sciences will seek to expand the product's current indication to people age 45 and older who are at an average risk for colorectal cancer.

Shares of diagnostic company Exact Sciences Corp, which makes Cologuard that helps detect colorectal cancer, jumped more than 10 percent after the guideline was revealed. But not everyone agrees with a starting age of 45.

The World Health Organization reports colorectal cancer, including colon and rectal cancers, is the second leading cause of death in the US for cancers affecting men and women. Colorectal cancer has not been linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause anal cancer, as well as cervical, throat, penile and other types of cancer.

If this new guideline is adopted, lives will be saved. NPR explains that doesn't mean getting a colonoscopy.

Such risks include false-negative or false-positive results, as well as rare complications or feelings of anxiety with more invasive testing approaches, such as colonoscopy.