Expert panel recommends colon cancer screening at age 45

A panel of health experts wants U.S. adults to start getting colon cancer screenings at age 45, five years younger than it previously recommended. Colon cancer rates have been declining overall, but the draft guidelines issued by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force reflect a growing concern about rising rates in people under the age of 50. Dr Alex Crean a colorectal surgeon wit Memorial Hospital joins me here on TMS.

Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States.

Research shows colorectal cancer in younger adults is on the rise. Now, that data has prompted an expert panel to recommend colon cancer screening start at age 45 – instead of 50.

“This is really great news and something many of us have been waiting for for some time now,” said David Liska, MD, FACS, FASCRS, a colorectal surgeon at Cleveland Clinic. “This will result in more cancer deaths being saved and more cancers being prevented.”

The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) published draft guidance that recommends updating the current screening age of 50 to 45, for those who are asymptomatic and average risk.

The task force said colorectal cancer screening saves lives and that adults ages 45 to 75 should be screened to reduce risk of dying from the disease.

The update aligns with recommendations issued by the American Cancer Society two years ago.

But the USPSTF recommendations, in particular, are significant because they often guide insurance providers and medical practices.

“This is the guideline that really determines what Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers, in most cases, will cover,” said Dr. Liska. “And that will also, then, guide primary care providers and family practitioners – what they will recommend their patients then to have in terms of screening, so with this change in guideline I do anticipate a big rise in the number of patients that are going to get screened under the age of 50, starting at age 45.”

The USPSTF colon cancer screening recommendations are currently in draft form.

Draft recommendations are typically posted for public comment for about a month before final guidelines are issued.

More information on the draft guidelines can be found on the USPSTF website.