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American Cancer Society Recommends Earlier Colorectal Cancer Screening Amid Rising Diagnoses Among Millennials And Gen X

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Cases of colorectal cancer are generally declining, but this does not appear to be the case among millennials and Gen X. Recent studies revealed that an increasing number of middle age and young people get diagnosed of colorectal cancer.

Colorectal Cancer On The Rise Among Millennials And Gen X

A study published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians in 2017 showed that from 2000 to 2013, cases of colorectal cancer among people younger than 50 years old went up by 22 percent.

Another 2017 study, which was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, showed that the number of colorectal cancer cases among individuals age 20 to 29 years old rose by 3.2 percent over the period between the years 1974 and 2013.

Health experts said that the rising number of colorectal cancer in people below 50 years old is concerning because screening for early diagnosis is normally recommended for people who are over 50 years old.

"As we all know, the risk of colorectal cancer increases with age, and the incidence really starts to kick off at around 50 years of age, so most screening programs have recommended starting screening at that time point," said Rashid Lui, from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

American Cancer Society Recommends New Age For Colorectal Cancer Screening

In response to rising colorectal cancer rates among young people, the American Cancer Society now recommends that adults undergo screening for the disease starting at age 45 instead of 50.

The organization, which announced the changes in its guidelines on Wednesday, said that extensive analysis suggests that lowering the starting age for screening can help save lives.

The screening applies to people with average risk, which include those with personal history of colorectal cancer or other types of polyps, inflammatory bowel disease, and getting radiation to the pelvic area or abdomen to treat a prior cancer; as well as those with family history of the disease and confirmed or suspected colorectal cancer syndrome.

"The ACS recommends that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start regular screening at age 45," the recommendation reads.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Tests

The ACS cited several options for colorectal cancer screening. These include highly sensitive fecal immunochemical test, highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood test, multi-targeted stool DNA test, flexible sigmoidoscopy, CT colonography, and colonoscopy.

The ACS estimates that there would be 97,220 new cases of colon cancer and 43,030 new cases of rectal cancer in the United States this year.

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