The American Cancer Society (ACS) has updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screening, the most notable change being the recommendation for the average risk patient to start screening at age 45 instead of age 50.
The guidelines were prompted by new data from ACS researchers that revealed a number of new colorectal cancer cases emerging among younger patients. ACS Guideline Development Committee experts also researched the tests that are available and used for colorectal screening.
"They looked at technology advances, sensitivity, and the pros and cons of tests that help prevent cancer and tests that help to find it,” the ACS website states.
The guidelines, published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians on May 30, 2018, noted that colorectal cancer is the fourth most commonly diagnosed cancer among adults in the United States, and the second leading cause of cancer death. Researchers expect over 140,000 Americans will be diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2018.
The ACS recommends that average risk adults aged 45 and older “undergo regular screening with either a high-sensitivity stool-based test or a structural (visual) examination, depending on patient preference and test availability."
It's important to pay attention to your colon health, according to Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) Medical Group Gastroenterologist Ami Behara, M.D., who suggests getting regular physical activity, not suppressing the desire to go to the bathroom, and eating a well-balanced, high-fiber diet rich in foods like berries, brown rice, green vegetables and whole wheat breads. She believes the revised guidelines, if they become the standard of care, will help to detect colon cancer earlier.
"The new recommendations make sense based on the rise in colon and rectal cancer among younger adults," Dr. Behara says.
According to the American College of Gastroenterology, a colonoscopy with polypectomy (removal of polyps) reduces the risk of colon cancer by 90 percent.
"A colonoscopy is considered the gold standard because it is the most effective test for polyps and colon cancer,” remarks Benjamin VanCura, M.D, an NCH Medical Group Gastroenterologist. “Detecting colon polyps is important because they can be precursors to cancer. Left to their own devices, they can turn into cancer. Another advantage to a colonoscopy is that, unlike other screening tests, you can remove what you see."
NCH has a multidisciplinary team of colorectal cancer specialists ready to help. NCH also offers virtual colonoscopy to obtain an interior view of the colon with a less invasive procedure. Call Health Connection at 847-618-4968 to schedule your appointment today.