Health Care

US task force recommends colon cancer screening starting at age 45


Americans should begin getting screened for colon cancer at age 45, rather than the previously recommended age of 50, according to updated guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

The key panel of experts had released a draft of the recommendation in October. 

The final recommendation, officially published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), calls for all adults ages 45 to 75 years old to be screened for colorectal cancer.

Colon cancer is the third deadliest form of cancer among men and women in the U.S., and approximately 52,980 people in the country are projected to die from it this year. 

Rates among younger people have been steadily increasing, the group said.

And, as of 2018, more than 30 percent of eligible adults were not up to date with screening. 

The recommendation comes after American Cancer Society recommended the same age change in 2018.

“Far too many people in the U.S. are not receiving this lifesaving preventive service,” Task Force vice chair Michael Barry said in a statement. “We hope that this new recommendation to screen people ages 45 to 49, coupled with our long-standing recommendation to screen people 50 to 75, will prevent more people from dying from colorectal cancer.”

The task force recommendation is for asymptomatic people of average risk, with no prior diagnosis of colorectal cancer, history of colon or rectal polyps or personal or family history of genetic disorders that put them at higher risk. 

The task force recommended selective screening among adults aged 76 to 85 years based on a patient’s overall health, prior screening history and preferences.

With the backing of the influential task force, colon cancer screenings for people starting at age 45 are now required to be covered with no copay by most private insurance companies. 

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

The task force said it recognized the disproportionate risk and encouraged clinicians to reach out to their Black patients to help make sure they are receiving regular screening.

Tags Cancer screening Chadwick Boseman colon cancer Prevention United States Preventive Services Task Force

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