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New Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

American Cancer Society recommends starting at age 45 or younger

By Working Nurse
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Although the overall incidence of colorectal cancer is on the decline in the U.S., the rate of new cases among younger adults is actually increasing. That’s prompted the American Cancer Society (ACS) to recommend that adults begin screenings at a younger age.

Sobering Risk for Younger Adults

Previously, the ACS recommended that most adults begin regular colorectal cancer screenings at age 50. The new guidelines, issued in May, lower the starting age to 45 — and even younger for patients with elevated risk of colon or rectal cancer. The updated guidelines are a response to a study published in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, which noted significant increases in the incidence of both colon and rectal cancers among adults under 55. 

In the ‘80s and ‘90s, younger adults’ risk of colorectal cancer was substantially lower than that of older people. However, the incidence of these cancers among adults 20–54 has steadily increased. In fact, it’s now as high as it was in the late 19th century. “Our finding that colorectal cancer risk for Millennials has escalated back to the level of those born in the late 1800s is very sobering,” says lead author Rebecca Siegel, MPH, strategic director of surveillance information services in the ACS Intramural Research Department.

“Not on the Radar” of Millennials

The authors of the 2017 study say the increase in new colorectal cancer cases “is largely due to delayed follow-up of symptoms, sometimes for years, because cancer is typically not on the radar of young adults or their providers” as it is for older people. Earlier screening can allow doctors to detect and remove suspicious growths before they become cancer. “Educational campaigns are needed to alert clinicians and the general public about this increase to help reduce delays in diagnosis … [and] also to encourage healthier eating and more active lifestyles to try to reverse this trend,” says Siegel. 

You can find the updated screening guidelines, a list of colorectal cancer symptoms and other information at www.cancer.org.  

This article is from workingnurse.com.

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