Yale doc says lowering recommended age for colon screening is critical following rise in colorectal cancer in younger patients


(WTNH) — The United States Preventative Services taskforce has released a recommendation that colon cancer screenings start at age 45 instead of 50. It’s because more young people are being diagnosed with colon cancer.

The big 5-0 has always been the recommended age for most to start getting colonoscopies. Now that could formally be lowered to 45.

Dr. Pamela Kunz, leader of the Gastrointestinal Cancers Program at Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital told News 8, “I’m happy to see this recommendation. It’s a critical change as we’re seeing increasing incidence rates of colorectal cancer in younger patients so to include patients between 45 and 50 is very important.”

Dr. Kunz says the new recommendation is from the United States Preventive Services Task Force, due to the staggering hike in younger cases of colon cancer.

“Since the ’90s we’ve seen increased incidents of two percent per year for people under the age of 55, whereas other age groups are decreasing. This is one of the fastest-rising age groups,” she explained.

Health experts are not sure about why this is.

“We do have some hypothesis that may be due to increased obesity in the population or low fiber diets. This is an active area of research and one that we need to understand better.”

Dr. Kunz says systemic racism and access to care plays a role in some cases.

“The groups that are hardest hit are Blacks and Black men we’ve seen this trend for a while. And, in fact, the American College of Gastroenterology in the mid-2000s made a recommendation that Black men 45-and-older needed to get colon cancer screenings.”

The American Cancer Society made this same recommendation in 2018, so Dr. Kunz says with both of those groups recommending this the chances of this going through and being covered by insurance are promising.

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