6 December, 2019

Make that 45, not 50 – to Start Your Yearly Colorectal Screening

Every year there are thousands of preventable deaths from colorectal cancer. Colorectal cancer, which comprises both colon and rectal cancer, is the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths among American men and women, with over 51,000 people expected to die from the disease by the end of 2019. And while the overall death rate has been dropping over the last few decades, thanks to advanced screening methods and increased awareness, deaths among people younger than age 55 have been steadily increasing 1% per year since 2007.

Regular colorectal cancer screenings help prevent these deaths by catching the disease in its early stages, when it is most treatable. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), if colorectal cancer is detected in stage I, the average 5-year survival rate is over 90%.

After analyzing data from a major study which showed that new cases of colorectal cancer are occurring at an increasing rate among younger adults, the ACS updated its guidelines for colorectal cancer screenings. Now, the ACS recommends that those at average risk for colorectal cancer begin regular screenings at age 45. Individuals at an increased risk (like those with a family history of colorectal cancer or certain inflammatory bowel disease) may need to begin screening even earlier, or screen more frequently, depending on their physician’s recommendation.

The ACS committee also researched the various tests that are available and used for colorectal cancer screening, and they looked at technological advances in those tests. The guideline emphasizes patient preference and choice in testing options and strongly supports follow-up when there are abnormal test results.

In addition to the standard colonoscopy screening, the ACS also recommends the Virtual Colonoscopy for screening. This is a minimally invasive tool that offers effective screening for colon cancer. While virtual colonoscopy provides the same sensitivity and specificity as conventional colonoscopy, it also looks at organs outside of the colon for signs of cancer, which regular colonoscopy cannot do. Virtual colonoscopy is also a much quicker exam, requiring no sedation and no recovery down-time.

Several RadNet centers offer virtual colonoscopy as an option for screening for colorectal cancer. If you are concerned about colorectal cancer or have questions about a screening, please have a conversation with your physician.


6 December, 2019


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