Health & Happiness: Colon Cancer Screening, Starting earlier than ever

Health & Happiness: Colon Cancer Screening, Starting earlier than ever

Last year, the American Cancer Society reduced the recommended age to begin colorectal cancer screening from 50 to 45.

Why, and what does this mean for you?

Colorectal cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment is a great success story of modern medicine. In patients over age 50, incidence and mortality have been declining over the last 10-15 years. Screening efforts are paying off!

Despite this decline, colorectal cancer remains the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. While older patients are seeing the benefits of screening, colon cancer rates and deaths in patients under 50 are increasing at an alarming rate. Considering this increase, The American Cancer Society has recommended beginning screening at age 45.  However, medical societies, governmental agencies, and health insurers have not all yet adopted this.

Get Screened

Colonoscopy is still considered the gold standard in colon cancer screening, as it can both detect AND prevent colon cancer. But any screening is better than no screening, and anyone with concerns should talk to their doctor about all testing options. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t get screened at all.

“People have so many misperceptions about colon cancer: that it only happens when you’re quite old, or that you’ll have symptoms warning you ahead of time. But none of that is true,” warns Dr. Alan Kaynard, Gastroenterologist at The Oregon Clinic. “People put it off because they’re nervous or uncomfortable. But my patients will tell you: a colonoscopy is far easier than colon cancer.”

Talk to your doctor about when YOU should begin screening for colon cancer. Individuals with family history of the disease; African Americans; patients with inflammatory bowel disease or other genetic conditions; and those with symptoms of colorectal cancer should talk to their doctor about screening earlier.

For more information about colonoscopy and colorectal cancer screening, contact The Oregon Clinic at 503-935-8000 or visit www.oregonclinic.com.