Age of first colon cancer screening should depend on your risk, new guidance says

Age of first colon cancer screening should depend on your risk, new guidance says

The American College of Physicians has issued a new guidance statement for colorectal cancer screening, and at least part of it contains a message many older adults are already hearing from their doctors:

Adults are encouraged to have their first screening for colorectal cancer (the second-leading cause of cancer deaths for men and women in the U.S.)  at age 50.

Dr. Virginia Hood, president of the American College of Physicians, said only about 60 percent of American adults age 50-plus get screened, even though available evidence supports the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in reducing deaths.
The new guidance statement, which appears in the March 6 issue of the College’s Annals of Internal Medicine, also advises doctors to perform an individualized colorectal cancer risk assessment on patients.

Adults at average risk should continue getting their first screening at age 50, and those at high risk should get their first screening at age 40 —  or when they’re 10 years younger than the age at which their youngest relative was diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the College advises. Screening after age 75, or when life expectancy isn’t greater than 10 years, isn’t recommended.

The College also says colonoscopy is generally recognized as the gold standard for screening, but the test includes some risks: possible bleeding, perforation of the intestine and adverse reactions to the preparations required.

Read more about colorectal cancer and testing:

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