The American College of Physicians has released new guidelines for screenings of colorectal cancer, pushing back the age for people who are asymptomatic.
The ACP now is suggesting that people who are asymptomatic and are at average risk of colorectal cancer wait until they’re 50 years old to undergo screenings.
Because more younger people had been getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer, the age for screenings had been lowered to 45, the “Today” show reported.
The American Cancer Society’s recommendation remains at 45, with patients urged to get a colonoscopy every year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force also still recommend that adults get screened from the ages of 45 to 75.
But the ACP said that doctors should consider not screening asymptomatic, average-risk adults between the ages of 45 and 49 and to “discuss the uncertainty around benefits and harms of screening in this population.”
The ACP also advised that doctors stop screening people over the age of 75 if they’re asymptomatic and at average risk with a life expectancy of 10 years or less.
The new recommendations do not apply to people who have symptoms or for people who have a higher risk. The screening in those cases should happen at any age, according to “Today.”
The reason for the changes: The “net benefit of colorectal cancer screening is much less favorable in average-risk adults between ages 45 to 49 years than 50 to 75 years,” according to the ACP.
The ACP admits that there has been a slight increase in colorectal cancer in people aged 45 to 49, but it’s lower than in people from the ages of 50 to 64 and 65 to 74. The group also said there are potential complications when it comes to the screening process, such as serious bleeding, perforation, myocardial infarction and angina.
“This updated guidance will help physicians determine the evidence-based course for their patients for screening for colorectal cancer and to avoid unnecessary screening in this population,” ACP President Omar Atiq said in a news release announcing the new guidelines. “Physicians and patients should select the screening test based on a discussion of the benefits, harms, costs, availability, frequency, and patient preferences.”
According to the CDC, symptoms of colorectal cancer include:
- A change in bowel habits.
- Blood in or on your stool.
- Diarrhea, constipation or feeling that the bowel does not fully empty.
- Abdominal pain, aches or cramps that don’t subside.
- Unexplained weight loss.