A recently updated guideline by the American Cancer Society says 45 is the new recommended age for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening.
Colorectal is a cancer of the colon or rectum, located at the digestive tract’s lower end. Its symptoms include abdominal pain and change in bowel habits.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer-related deaths in the world.
Previous guidelines called for screenings to begin at age 50, depending on your risk level, but the new guideline says screening should begin at age 45, while it “strongly” recommends regular screening for adults aged 50 years and above.
The updated guidelines come on the heels of a reported rise in colorectal cancer among younger adults.
“In people born more recently, they’re at four times the risk for rectal cancer than people born in the ’50s (at the same age), for example, and double the risk of colon cancer,” said Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer at the American Cancer Society.
“It’s what we call a birth cohort effect. Nobody knows why really clearly, and that’s a big area of interest, but nobody’s questioning that it’s happening.”
The updated guidelines say those at higher risk include African-Americans, Alaska Natives, and people with a family history or a personal history of colon or rectal polyps, adding persons with these risk factors could require early screening.
It further listed cigarette smoking, excess body weight, diet, including high consumption of alcohol and red and processed meat and low consumption of fruits/vegetables, dietary fiber, and dietary calcium, physical inactivity as risk factors associated with CRC.