Spike in colorectal cancer from age 49-50 suggests many undiagnosed before screenings

Updated: Feb. 1, 2020 at 9:29 AM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - There is a push to lower the age of when you should get your first colonoscopy.

Colorectal cancer has had a stigma of being a disease associated with aging. For many years, doctors did not recommend screening for the disease until age 50. However, according to a new study, the reason colon cancer isn’t as prevalent in adults under 50 is that medical providers are not looking for it.

Bringing the age for screening down by just a few years, could detect cases much earlier, giving patients a chance at finding a pre-cancerous growth before it turns into cancer or treating early-stage colorectal cancer before it spreads to other parts of the body.

The study by Tulane University, published in JAMA Network Open medical journal, found that colorectal cancer diagnoses jumped up 46% between the ages of 49 and 50. This supports the case for earlier screening for the disease. Researchers looked at 15 years worth of data showing the incidence of colorectal cancer by year of age.

The spike between age 49 and age 50 was true for both men and women and in both white and black populations. Of the diagnoses at age 50, researchers found a majority of cases were invasive, meaning that signs of cancer were likely lingering for some time.

The US Preventive Services Task Force, which sets federal standards, currently recommends screening for those at average risk to start at age 50. But in 2018, the American Cancer Society called for routine screenings to begin at age 45.

For a link to the study, click or tap here.

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