Health Alert: Experts recommend lowering age for colon cancer screenings to 45

Experts recommend lowering age for colon cancer screenings to 45

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This week, the US Preventative Task Force - the nation’s leading panel for medical guidance - submitted a draft recommendation that adults should start screening for colorectal cancer routinely starting at age 45, rather than 50. This recommendation comes two months after Hollywood actor Chadwick Boseman of Black Panther fame lost his life to Colon Cancer at just 43 years.

Though Boseman was particularly young for his diagnosis, Surgical Oncologists like Dr. Michael White with Bon Secours says there has been a trend of people in their 30′s and 40′s developing the disease.

“The risk of getting that cancer has gone up dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years so I think people sometimes overlook the symptoms that might be pick up later on,” said Dr. White. “As far as why we’re seeing such an increase in the younger populations... we still don’t have a great grasp on at this point.”

Dr. White says some early symptoms of colon cancer include bloody stool, abdominal pain, inability to go to the bathroom and weight loss without trying to lose weight.

While the recommendation isn’t set in stone, Dr. White says the extra five years could be a game-changer for people even at average risk for the disease.

“The difference could be life-changing If you have an early polyp at 45 the risk of that becoming a caner and becoming a bigger problem by the time you’re 50 is significant,” said Dr. White.

Dr. White adds that according to studies by the US Preventative Task Force show that African Americans have a slightly increased risk of the disease and that they are actively studying health disparities in minority groups to figure out the reason why.

Dr. White says your best bet of avoiding the disease is getting routine colonoscopies if you are average to high risk of disease in addition to maintaining a healthy lifestyle and recognizing its symptoms.

“I would just advocate that people not be afraid of having a colonoscopy,” said Dr. White. “If you’re at that point where you meet the criteria for screenings it could make the difference between having something that’s easily treatable and something that can be life-threatening.”

Researchers add it’s especially important not to avoid those screening during the pandemic.

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