Colorectal cancer is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States that affect both men and women. Yet it is one of the most detectable and preventable cancers and some experts are now suggesting that you might want to start getting regular screenings as soon as age 45. Colon cancer grows slowly over a long period of time and screening is an effective tool against its development, but when to start those screenings is a question that draws varied answers.
There is a disagreement between some health organizations about the age that screenings should begin. With colorectal cancer on the rise in people younger than age 50 and increased obesity rates, earlier screenings may become more important.
The American College of Physicians continues to support a long-standing recommendation that average risk adults start colorectal cancer screenings at age 50. However, since 2018 the American Cancer Society has recommended screening as early as age 45. It is recommended that African Americans begin at 45 and those with first generation family with a history of polyps or cancer begin early too.
Yet to make earlier screenings the new norm, doctors and communities may have to convince the U.S. health insurance system first. Some states are in the process of considering bills that would require insurances cover screenings at age 45. But until new regulations are adopted, whether or not someone between the ages of 45 and 50 will get a screening, may be solely dependent on if their insurance will agree to pay for it.
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that colorectal cancer screenings save lives. Early colon cancer often has no symptoms, so your best defense is early detection. If everyone, 50 or older had regular screenings, at least 60 percent of deaths from this cancer could be avoided.