Upon arriving at the age of 50, adults are greeted at the mid-century milestone with reminders to schedule their Shingles vaccine, a colon cancer screening and a mammogram or prostate cancer evaluation. But now, with rising rates of colorectal cancer among people between the ages of 49 and 50, the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has lowered the recommended age to start colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45. And younger adults will get a taste of things to come.
According to Everyday Health, starting at age 45, adults with no symptoms of colorectal cancer and average risk for developing the disease should start screening. Colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death in the U.S. and about 10.5 percent of new colorectal cancer cases occur in adults under the age of 50. According to a 2020 study, the incidence of colorectal cancer in adults aged 49 and 50 increased by 46.1 percent between 2000 and 2015.
At one time, colorectal cancer was considered a disease that mostly affected people in their 60s and 70s but new evidence shows that there is a rise in these types of cancers among younger adults while rates are down in people over the age of 65. African Americans have the highest rate of death from colorectal cancer according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
By lowering the age for routine screenings, it is hoped that more cases of colorectal cancer will be caught in the early stages when the disease is treatable. In addition to encouraging earlier screening, more access to screening for underserved and low-income populations is needed to ensure people who are at greater risk for colorectal cancer get screened.
If you are between the ages of 45 and 49, it is recommended that you talk with your doctor about the different methods of colorectal cancer screening and what is appropriate, given your individual risk factors. And if you have delayed your routine screening due to COVID-19, it’s past time to get an appointment on the books.
Learn more about colorectal cancer, who is at greater risk, and many other helpful resources by following this link to the Colorectal Cancer Alliance website.