• Cancer

    Updated guidelines for colorectal cancer screening

colonoscopy scope camera view of the colon and polyp

The American Cancer Society has announced updated guidelines as to when most folks should begin being screened for colon and rectal cancer. Colon and rectal cancer kills thousands of people every year.  In fact, it's the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the U.S. The updated recommendations are that adults at average risk should start regular screening at age 45, five years earlier than the former recommendations.

Dr. Jonathan Leighton, a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist, points to one big reason behind the change: "There has been a recent increase in the development of colorectal cancers in younger individuals, under the age of 50. And, so, for that reason ─ because of this alarming increase in this population ─ the American Cancer Society decided to lower the age of screening to 45." Dr. Leighton says it is the hope that lowering the screening age to detect polyps and colorectal cancer at an earlier stage will save lives and improve overall outcomes.  Other societies have not yet changed the age of screening, so, "in the meantime, I think patients need to discuss this with their physicians, and through shared decision-making, decide what's the best age for them."

Watch: Dr. Leighton discusses the updated colorectal cancer screening guidelines.

Journalists: Broadcast-quality sound bites with Dr. Leighton are in the downloads.