The long-standing recommendation of starting colorectal screening at age 50 is no more. The American Cancer Society’s newly updated guidelines for colon and rectal cancer screening advises adults who are at average risk to get screened as early as 45.
Colorectal cancer rates are on the rise among Gen X and millennials, the Journal of the National Cancer Institute says. Between the mid-1980s and 2013, colon cancer rates increased about one to two percent per year for people in their 20s and 30s. And rectal cancer rates climbed even faster in recent decades—at an annual rate of about three percent for 20- and 30-year-olds. All in all, it’s estimated that 16,450 new cases of colon or rectal cancers will be diagnosed this year in Americans under 50.
Who’s in the “high-risk” category?
According to the American Cancer Society, people at a higher or increased risk are those with:
- A strong family history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of colorectal cancer or certain types of polyps
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease)
- A known family history of a hereditary colorectal cancer syndrome such as familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) or Lynch synd