A panel of health experts say Americans should start getting screened for colorectal cancer at age 45 instead of age 50 in new guidelines published Tuesday.
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said it lowered the recommended screening age because colorectal cancer is appearing more frequently in younger adults.
“Far too many people in the U.S. are not receiving this lifesaving preventive service,” task force Vice Chair Dr. Michael Barry said in a statement. “We hope that this new recommendation to screen people ages 45 to 49, coupled with our long-standing recommendation to screen people 50 to 75, will prevent more people from dying from colorectal cancer.”
The final recommendations apply to all adults without symptoms and who do not have a personal history of colorectal polyps or a personal or family health history of genetic disorders that increase the risk of colorectal cancer, the task force said.
Colorectal cancer is a leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, killing about 50,000 people a year.
An estimated 1 in 4 people age 50 to 75 have never been screened, according to the task force. And new cases before age 50 have been rising since the early 2000s, The Associated Press reported.
The final guidelines also recommend two types of tests to screen for colorectal cancer: direct visualization tests and stool-based tests.
The change in guidelines from the task force now aligns it with guidance from American Cancer Society, which also recommends getting screened at age 45.
“The new guidelines from the United States Preventive Services Task Force makes it possible for more than 15 million additional Americans to receive life-saving colorectal cancer screenings. This is a recommendation that will save lives,” said Michael Sapienza, CEO of the Colorectal Cancer Alliance. “Young-onset colorectal cancer cases are increasing at a startling rate, and this new guidance addresses that reality.
More than 1 in 10 colorectal cancer cases are in people younger than age 50. Patients diagnosed under age 50 are typically diagnosed with more advanced and deadly cancer, largely due to a lack of timely screening,” Mr. Sapienza said.
It’s been long recommended for Black people to start screening at age 45 due to their higher incidence and mortality rates from colorectal cancer.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.