45 is the New 50 For Colorectal Cancer Screening

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month and at Digestive Health Institute, our goal is to provide you with colorectal cancer facts, encouraging colonoscopy at age 45, which could help protect you and your loved one’s health. 

Increase in Colorectal Cancer Cases

While colorectal cancer was historically associated with individuals aged 50 and above, now more people in their 40s and even younger are being diagnosed with the disease.

In fact, colorectal cancer has increased around 15 percent within the past decade among individuals ages 40-49.  Because of this, The American Cancer Society and U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended lowering the first- time screening age to 45.

Although 90 percent of colorectal cancer cases are diagnosed among individuals over age 50, diagnosis rates are steadily declining.  On the other end of the spectrum, diagnosis rates of colorectal cancer continues to increase among younger adults with one in five individuals diagnosed between 20 and 54 years of age. 

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths.  In 2022, the American Cancer Society estimates more than 106,180 individuals will be diagnosed with colon cancer and it will claim more than 52,000 lives. Because you have a 1 in 20 chance of getting colorectal cancer in your lifetime, we encourage you to take preventive measures and get screened beginning at age 45. 

What are Colorectal Cancer risk factors?

Over half of colorectal cancer cases in the United States are attributable to factors including:

  • excess body weight
  • physical inactivity
  • long-term smoking
  • high consumption of red or processed meat
  • low calcium intake
  • heavy alcohol consumption
  • low intake of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain fiber

If you’re African-American age 45 and older, screening is especially important as colorectal cancer is more prevalent than among any other ethnic group. 

In addition, you are considered high risk of developing colorectal cancer and should be screened earlier than 45 if you have:

  • previous colorectal cancer diagnosis
  • history of adenomas
  • inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis
  • family History of colon cancer or certain types of polyps
  • inherited colon cancer syndrome (e.g. Lynch Syndrome)
  • a personal or family history of colon polyps or colorectal cancer
  • certain health conditions such as IBD including Crohn’s disease and Ulcerative colitis or Lynch Syndrome
  • digestive issues or symptoms

Get screened Today

If you are at risk for colorectal cancer or are age 45 or above, we highly encourage you to schedule your colonoscopy today.  As you may know, there are several alternative screening methods available in the form of stool-based tests, but a colonoscopy is the most comprehensive screening option as it can both detect and through the removal of cancerous polyps, prevent colorectal cancer.  It’s vital to note that if you have had a stool-based test with an abnormal or positive result, you must follow up with a colonoscopy to rule out cancer or polyps which may become cancer. 

When diagnosed in the early stages, colorectal cancer is highly treatable.

Insurance Coverage

For policy years beginning on or after May 31st, 2022, insurance providers are now required to provide screening coverage to individuals 45 and above.  In addition, insurance providers are required to cover a colonoscopy performed after a positive result from a stool-based test, eliminating surprise bills. 

We encourage you to double-check with your insurance provider to determine your specific plan’s coverage as plans that have already been implemented may not include coverage until next year. 

We are also here to help you if you have any questions or concerns about coverage and billing.

Contact Us Today

For more information or to schedule your colonoscopy, click here.

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