New guidelines released recommend that Colon cancer screenings should start at age 45, instead of the previously recommended age of 50 for U.S. adults. American Cancer Society's advice came after a study published last year found a rising rates of color cancer and deaths in people younger than 50. Experts aren't sure why there is a 50% increase in cases since 1994. The advice also puts American Cancer Society out of sync with guidelines from an influential government advisory group, which kept the screening age at 50 since it was updated 2 years ago.
Most colon cancer occurs in adults 55 or older, but the rate of cases and deaths have thankfully been falling for decades. Colon cancer, combined with rectal cancer, is the second leading cause of cancer death in the U.S., falling in line after Lung cancer. This year alone, more than 140,000 Americans are expected to be diagnosed with it and about 50,000 will die from it.
Doctors may have to look into specialty medical societies to sort out the different guidelines, as experts are worried about pre-50 colon cancer in some racial and ethnic groups. On the other side, people have argued that instead of lowering the age to 45, more effort could be put into getting more people tested, since only two-thirds of the population have been following screening guidelines. Dr. Andrew Wolf, lead author of the new guidelines, suggested that they should be able to do both - lower the age and get more of the population to follow screening guidelines.