Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States. To catch those typically slow-growing malignancies early, when they can often be cured, most doctors' groups recommend colorectal cancer screening starting at age 50. Despite the high cure rate when colon cancer is caught early, only two-thirds of Americans over 50 get screened.
March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.
Because many people shy away from the invasive colonoscopy, The American Cancer Society has now endorsed a full range of screening tests, including at home kits that test stool for blood. In 2018, the society also changed its age recommendation to begin screening five years earlier. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, an independent panel that evaluates screening tests, decided not to lower its recommended age from 50. However, according to Richard Wender, chief cancer control officer for The American Cancer Society, “data pointed to a persistent increase in diagnosis of colorectal cancer among younger people across demographic groups” and they feel beginning screening at age 45 will save lives.
The Colorectal Cancer Alliance encourages people to get screened, regardless of age, if they experience any of the following symptoms: a change in bowel habits, persistent abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, weakness or fatigue. However, early signs of cancer do not include pain, so that is why it is important to get screened.