New guidelines for colorectal cancer screening
You've probably heard about the new recommendations from the American Cancer Society (ACA) that came out last week. ACA now says most people should get screened for colon and rectal cancer starting at age 45, rather than 50.
“That’s because there have been numerous studies showing that the incidence of colon cancer in young individuals is dramatically rising,” said Dr. John Inadomi, UW Medicine gastroenterologist.
That first test at age 45 does not have to be a colonoscopy.
"The other tests include such things as stool-based tests looking for either blood, that you can't see, or looking for blood with DNA testing,” Dr. Inadomi explained. “But these tests generally detect cancer, they don't detect the precursors. In other words, they can detect cancer at a curable stage, but they can't prevent cancer like a colonoscopy can."
Someone at high risk of colorectal cancer should talk to their doctor about when to get screened. Everyone, even young adults, need to know the warning signs of colon cancer:
A change in your bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation or a change in the consistency of your stool, that lasts longer than four weeks.
Rectal bleeding or blood in your stool.
Persistent abdominal discomfort, such as cramps, gas or pain.