US Preventive Services Task Force Lowers Colon Cancer Screening Age to 45
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force lowered the recommended age to begin colorectal cancer screening to 45. Previously the age was 50. This recommendation aligns with the American Cancer Society’s statements made in 2018. More importantly, this paves the way for more insurance companies to cover colonoscopies starting at age 45.
Here are some answers to common questions regarding the change.
Why was the age lowered to 45?
People under the age of 50 account for 10.5% of newly diagnosed colorectal cancer cases. On top of that, the number of cases among adults between 40 and 49 years has grown by nearly 15% in recent years.
The age recommendation of 45 is for people who are at average risk of developing colorectal cancer. If a person has a family history or genetic risk, a history of pre-cancerous polyps, or a diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease, they may require additional screenings at a younger age.
By lowering the age to 45, the Task Force predicts that 22 to 27 life-years may be gained and deaths from colorectal cancer will be reduced. Life-years are a way to measure how much longer a person might live if they were going to get colorectal cancer, but it was prevented instead. Colorectal cancer, when found early, is treated more easily and effectively.
The Task Force made this change in age recommendation with the aim of saving thousands of additional lives.
Who is the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force?
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an independent group of experts who volunteer to make evidence-based recommendations for clinical preventive services. They aim to improve the health of everyone in the country. They are not a government organization.
What types of screenings for colorectal cancer are there?
There are several types of screenings for colorectal cancer and the Task Force wrote about them in their article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This includes colonoscopy, stool tests, and CT scans.
Colonoscopy remains the best method to screen for colon cancer. When performed by a skilled gastroenterologist, they are able to view the entire colon and find more precancerous polyps. GCSA doctors are able to find about 15% more polyps than the national standard for colonoscopy.
Will my insurance cover screenings at age 45?
It is hopeful that with these new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that more insurance companies will provide coverage for colonoscopies and other screenings at age 45.
Some major insurance companies already cover screening colonoscopies at 45, like Aetna. However, not all insurance companies do. Call your insurance provider to discuss your options.
How do I start my colorectal cancer screenings?
Start with a consultation with a gastroenterologist – they will discuss your options and recommend personalized care for you.
If you are between the ages of 45 and 50, now is the time to get your colonoscopy scheduled. It may just save your life.