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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.