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Colon cancer screening should begin at age 45, not 50, US task force says

Colon cancer screening should begin at age 45, not 50, US task force says
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A key panel of experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that people get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 45, instead of age 50, pointing to new evidence of the cancer in younger people. 

The recommendation from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force comes after American Cancer Society recommended the same age change in 2018.

The draft recommendation is open for comment until Nov. 23. 

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The task force especially recommended the earlier screening for Black patients, given higher rates of the disease among Black people. 

“New science about colorectal cancer in younger people has enabled us to expand our recommendation to screen all adults starting at age 45, especially Black adults who are more likely to die from this disease,” Michael Barry, a member of the task force, said in a statement. “Screening earlier will help prevent more people from dying from colorectal cancer.” 

Actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer at age 43 in August, placing a spotlight on the toll that the disease takes on younger adults and specifically African Americans.

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but about a quarter of people aged 50 to 75 — the age range within the previous guidelines for screening — have not been screened, according to the panel.  

“Unfortunately, not enough people in the U.S. receive this effective preventive service that has been proven to save lives,” Alex Krist, the chair of the task force, said in a statement. “We hope that this recommendation to screen people ages 45 to 75 for colorectal cancer will encourage more screening and reduce people's risk of dying from this disease."