The American Cancer Society recently published new guidelines for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening, recommending that screening begin at age 45 rather than 50. This change is intended to expand routine screening to more than 20 million Americans, with an overarching aim of reducing colorectal cancer mortality and morbidity. Figure 1 presents the diagnosed incident cases of colorectal cancer in the US in 2016.
Colorectal cancer originates in either the colon or the rectum and is one of the most common types of cancer in the US, with more than 140,000 estimated incident cases in 2018. Men and women over 45 years old make up the majority of cancer cases and are considered those at highest risk for developing the disease.
CRC is a high-mortality cancer, with symptoms including blood in stool, stomach pains, aches or cramps that do not go away, weight loss, and a persistent change in bowel habit. The tests used to detect and diagnose CRC are physical rectal examination, fecal occult blood test, and colonoscopy. CRC screening programs aim to identify and remove pre-cancerous polyps in the colon or rectum. The removal of pre-cancerous polyps has been shown to reduce mortality and morbidity. With these changes in recommended screening ages, it is likely that a further reduction in mortality can be achieved; however, this may come with an apparent increase in the number of cases in ages 45–49 years old as more people undergo screening sooner.
- GlobalData (2016). EpiCast Report: Colorectal Cancer – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025, December 2016, GDHCER141-16.
- GlobalData (2016). EpiCast Model: Colorectal Cancer – Epidemiology Forecast to 2025, December 2016, GDHCEM141-16.
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