US Health Task Force Considers Lowering Recommended Age for Cancer Test

Category: Health


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. screening / ˈskri nɪŋ / (n) – the act of testing a person to look for evidence of a disease

    New medical equipment has made cancer screening fast and accurate.

  2. scheme / skim / (n) – an official plan or program for doing or getting something

    The bank released a new scheme for loan repayment.

  3. project / prəˈdʒɛkt / (v) – to plan or estimate the amount or value of something for the future

    The company is projecting a 30% increase in sales this holiday season.

  4. traction / ˈtræk ʃən / (n) – the support or interest for a cause, idea, etc. that is necessary for it to become popular or successful

    Climate change initiatives are gaining traction because of online campaigns.

  5. detection / dɪˈtɛk ʃən / (n) – the act of discovering or finding something

    My friend’s in charge of bomb detection at the airport.


Read the text below.

The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is looking at a proposal that seeks to lower the recommended age for colorectal cancer screening to 45.

Colorectal cancer occurs in parts of the large intestine called the colon and rectum. The recommended age for colorectal cancer screening currently starts at 50 years old. Task force member Dr. Michael Barry said the draft recommendation proposes cancer screening for all adults aged 45 to 75. The scheme also prescribes selective screening for adults aged 76 to 85, depending on their health condition and past health checks.

The USPSTF is still gathering feedback about the proposal. If the proposal is finalized, colorectal screening services for adults aged 45 to 75 could be fully covered by private insurance plans.

The recommendation is backed by data indicating an alarming increase of colorectal cancer cases among adults aged 45 to 49 in recent years. The American Cancer Society projected that 12% of patients diagnosed with colorectal cancer in 2020 would be under 50. In addition, the USPSTF said that around 53,200 colorectal cancer patients could die in 2020.

Awareness of the disease’s threat also gained traction when famous actor Chadwick Boseman died of colon cancer at the age of 43 last August.

Doctors and specialists approved the screening proposal, saying that it will raise awareness about the possibility of getting colorectal cancer at a young age. Earlier screening will also urge doctors and patients to pay attention to warning signs of the disease.

According to Young-Onset Colorectal Cancer Center director Dr. Kimmie Ng, early detection will allow doctors to treat the disease at a stage when it is still curable and improve survival rates.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• What do you think doctors can do to make the idea of getting screened for cancer appealing to patients? Explain.
• Aside from lowering the recommended age, what else can be done to raise awareness about colorectal cancer (e.g. share information on social media, make donations)? Discuss.

Discussion B

• Do you think it is important to get regular health screenings? Why or why not?
• What can be done to encourage people to get regular health screenings (e.g. give incentives like monetary benefits, make screenings free)? Discuss.