Health Care

Cancer group says colon screening should start at 45, not 50

Cancer group says colon screening should start at 45, not 50”

Getting screened for colon cancer is no longer a rite-of-passage for a 50-year-old, at least according to the American Cancer Society.

Analyst Brian Weinstein, with the William Blair investment firm, praised the American Cancer Society for its "forward thinking", but cautioned that the updated guideline may not be a big boost for Cologuard right away.

The models show that starting a colonoscopy earlier, at the age of 45, increased life-years by 6.2 percent compared to beginning at 50, as we do now.

Cancer society officials acknowledge the shift to 45 could cause confusion but felt strongly that they needed to act now.

Experts say it is unclear why colon cancer rates are on the rise in younger people. The group endorses six kinds of screening exams, from low-priced take-home stool tests performed every year to colonoscopies done every 10.

Most colon cancer occurs in adults 55 and older, and the good news is rates of cases and deaths have been falling for decades.

"It is the only one of those tests that actually prevents cancer".

The same tests are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel that reviews evidence and issues advice for a variety of screenings and treatments. "I have to keep up with my health so I do everything that the doctors ask me to do", said Keith Chalmers of Wilkes-Barre.

The American Cancer Society has updated their age guideline for colon cancer screenings, recommending that people with average risk for this type of cancer should start screenings at age 45, instead of 50, the age previously recommended.

Church is a member of American Cancer Society Guideline Development Group which is responsible for updating cancer screening guidelines.

In just the last few years, Church also co-authored two other guidelines one for breast cancer screenings and one for lung cancer screenings.

Dr. Andrew Wolf, the lead author of the latest guidelines, said they considered and rejected that reasoning.

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