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American Cancer Society: Start Colon Cancer Screening at 45, not 50

American Cancer Society

The American Cancer Society now recommends that average-risk patients begin colorectal cancer screening at age 45. Previously, the ACS recommended screening start at age 50. The change comes after a rise in colorectal cancer deaths in US adults aged 20 to 54.

American Cancer Society Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer Screenings

Average-risk patients should begin screening at age 45.  Those at higher risk include African Americans, Alaska Natives, and those with a family history of colon or rectal polyps.

People with a life expectancy of more than 10 years and in good health should continue regular colorectal cancer screening through the age of 75.

People ages 76 through 85, should consider screening based on personal preferences, life expectancy, overall health, and prior screening history.

People over 85 should no longer get colorectal cancer screening.

What’s Causing The Rise in Colorectal Cancer?

After a steady decline for decades since the 1970s, the colorectal cancer death rate began to rise in the early 2000s for those aged 20 to 54.

Gastroenterologists and researchers don’t have solid evidence that explains the rise in colorectal cancer.  Though some suggest that obesity rates, which continue to rise, could be partly to blame. Obesity is a known risk factor for many cancers, including colorectal cancer.

Other possible reasons could include sedentary lifestyles and poor diet choices.

Insurance Challenges

Only a handful of insurers are covering colonoscopy screenings starting at age 45.  Aetna insurance was the largest group to adopt the new age guidelines. Aetna now considers a colonoscopy as a colorectal cancer screening test as medically necessary for preventive services for average-risk members aged 45 years and older when recommended by their physician.

A few Blue Cross Blue Shield insurance plans have also extended coverage to 45-year-olds. In San Antonio, those include plans offered bt H-E-B, Univerisity of Texas System, and the BCBS Federal Plan.

Please check with your insurance company to see if they have adopted the new guidelines to cover screening colonoscopies.

Colorectal Cancer Screenings

Want more info on screenings? Visit our colonoscopy page for more info.

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