45 is the new 50!
We are pleased to announce that 45 is the new 50 when it comes to colorectal cancer screening.
In May 2021, the US Preventive Services Task Force issued new recommendations for colorectal cancer stating that people at average risk should start screening at age 45. This means that health insurances have or will be amending their guidelines to reflect this new screening age.
Why the change?
The recommendation age was lowered to 45 because colorectal cancer cases among young and middle-aged people are on the rise. In 2020, 11% of colon cancers and 15% of rectal cancers occurred in patients younger than 50. This rise is alarming considering in 2010 it was only 5% and 9%!
Why get screened?
Colorectal cancer is the most preventable cancer with proper screening. During colonoscopies, precancerous polyps are located and removed which prevents cancer from developing.
What is average risk for colorectal cancer?
People are considered average risk if they:
- Are 45 or older
- Do not have a personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- Do not have a history of colorectal cancer
- Do not have a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- Do not have a confirmed or suspected hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome, such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch syndrome (hereditary non-polyposis colon cancer or HNPCC)
- Do not have a personal history of getting radiation to the abdomen (belly) or pelvic area to treat a prior cancer
If you do have any of the following risks, you may need to be screened sooner than age 45.
What if I’m having symptoms?
If you are having any of the following symptoms, see a gastroenterologist. You don’t have to wait until you are 45 or until your next recall. A gastroenterologist will be able to evaluate to see if you require testing sooner.
- A persistent change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool
- Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool
- Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas, or pain
- A feeling that your bowel doesn’t empty completely
- Weakness or fatigue
- Unexplained weight loss
What are risk factors for Colorectal cancer risk factors that I cannot change?
- A personal history of colorectal polyps or colorectal cancer– If you have a history of adenomatous polyps (adenomas), you are at increased risk of developing colorectal cancer. This is especially true if the polyps are large, if there are many of them, or if any of them show dysplasia. Dysplasia is a term used to describe cells in the lining of the colon or rectum that look abnormal but are not true cancer cells. They can change into cancer over time.
- If you’ve had colorectal cancer, even though it was completely removed, you are more likely to develop new cancers in other parts of the colon and rectum. The chances of this happening are greater if you had your first colorectal cancer when you were younger.
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease– If you have inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including either Ulcerative Colitis or Crohn’s disease, your risk of colorectal cancer is increased.
- IBD is a condition in which the colon is inflamed over a long period of time. People who have had IBD for many years, especially if untreated, can develop dysplasia. Inflammatory bowel disease is different from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which does not increase your risk for colorectal cancer.
- A family history of colorectal cancer or adenomatous polyps– Most colorectal cancers are found in people without a family history of colorectal cancer. Still, nearly 1 in 3 people who develop colorectal cancer have other family members who have had it.
What are risk factors for Colorectal cancer risk factors that I can change?
- Being overweight or obese- If you are overweight or obese your risk of developing and dying from colorectal cancer is higher. Being overweight raises the risk of colon and rectal cancer in both men and women.
- Physical inactivity– If you’re not physically active, you have a greater chance of developing colon cancer. Being more active can help lower your risk.
- Certain types of diets– A diet that’s high in red meats (such as beef, pork, lamb, or liver) and processed meats (like hot dogs and some luncheon meats) can raise your colorectal cancer risk.
- Smoking– People who have smoked tobacco for a long time are more likely than non-smokers to develop and die from colorectal cancer. Smoking is a well-known cause of lung cancer but can be linked to many other cancers too.
- Heavy alcohol use– Colorectal cancer has been linked to moderate to heavy alcohol use. Limiting alcohol use can have many health benefits, including a lower risk of many kinds of cancer.
Don’t wait! Now is the time to have a conversation with the doctors at Hunterdon Gastroenterology Associates about Colon Cancer screening, risks, and treatment!
Call us at 908-783-4000 to schedule your appointment today!