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American Cancer Society Lowers Colon Cancer Screening Age to 45

Because colon cancer rates are increasing among the young, the American Cancer Society (ACS) has lowered the colon cancer screening age to 45 for men and women at average risk.

Gastroenterologist Reads Colonoscopy Results to Patient

Latest Research Calls for New Colonoscopy Age Guidelines

Previously, the ACS and other medical organizations recommended colon screenings for average-risk men and women beginning at 50 years of age. The ACS updated their recommendation in May 2018 after examining the most current colon cancer statistics.

Since the 1990s, colon cancer incidence among Americans aged 20 to 54 has gradually risen by between 0.5 and 2 percent per year and rectal cancer incidence has increased by between 2 and 3 percent per year. The ACS asserts if this trend continues, people born in 1990 will double their risk for colon cancer and quadruple their risk of rectal cancer compared to those born in 1950.

Men and women 55 and younger are 58 percent more likely to be diagnosed with advanced-stage colon cancer because they are unaware of the warning signs of colon cancer and may appear to otherwise be in good health.

Why Colon Cancer Screening Matters

Colon cancer is the third-leading cause of cancer death in the United States and is expected to claim the lives of 50,630 Americans this year. Most cases of colon cancer are actually preventable through screening, but one-third of eligible adults are not getting screened.

American Cancer Society’s New Guidance

The new guidance from the American Cancer Society includes the following Colonoscopy Age Recommendations:

  • All adults who are at average risk for colon cancer should begin routine screening at age 45.
  • Those with a family or personal history of colon polyps or colon cancer should begin screening earlier.
  • Average-risk men and women in good health with a life expectancy of more than ten years should continue colon cancer screenings through 75 years of age.
  • Men and women between the ages of 76 and 85 should consult their medical provider about whether to be screened, based on their overall wellness, life expectancy, personal preferences and prior screening habits.
  • Men and women 85 and older should not be screened for colon cancer.

Insurance Coverage

Although the ACS recommends that first-time colon screenings begin at age 45, not all insurance plans offer preventative coverage for patients between the ages of 45 and 59.

Talk to your doctor about your family and personal medical history so you can be screened at the appropriate time. Then, call your insurance provider about coverage specific to your age, medical history and doctor’s recommendations.

Call a Gastroenterologist

As young-onset colon cancer continues to increase, it is important to remember that you are never too young. More adults in their 20s and 30s are being diagnosed than ever before. The ACS encourages you to familiarize yourself with the warning signs of colon cancer so you can act promptly. If symptoms persist for more than a few days, schedule an appointment with a fellowship-trained gastroenterologist.  

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