American Cancer Society urges earlier colorectal cancer screenings

The American Cancer Society is urging Americans to get screened for colorectal cancer at a younger age. 

Previously, American Cancer Society guidelines called for colorectal cancer screenings to begin at age 50. 

Now, the group has amended those guidelines and is urging for screenings to start at 45-years old. 

Beth Brunner, Health Systems Manager at the American Cancer Society’s Pewaukee office, said that’s because more young people, under the age of 50, are being diagnosed with cancer of the colon or rectum. 

“Individuals born around 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer than individuals born around 1950,” Brunner said. 

She said earlier screenings will help people diagnosed get treated, and hopefully cured, more quickly. 

“It’s going to help us save lives,” Brunner said. 

Dr. Aaron Chevinsky, Medical Director of Surgical Oncology at Aurora Health Care, said colorectal cancer is “very treatable and curable” if caught early on. 

“The later we find it, the harder it is to cure,” Chevinsky said. 

He said he’s noticed a growing number of younger adults being diagnosed with colorectal cancer at Aurora St. Luke’s Hospital on Milwaukee’s South Side. 

Chevinsky added doctors continue to struggle to explain that trend. 

But he noted a poor diet, heavy on red or processed meats, smoking, and obesity are all considered risk factors for colorectal cancer. 

“Beyond that, there may be factors we don’t know about yet: genetics or environmental factors,” Chevinsky said.

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