The updated guidelines from the American College of Physicians (ACP) recommending that screening for colorectal cancer begin at age 50 contradict the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), the American Cancer Society and the U.S. Multi-Society Task Force on Colorectal Cancer, all of which recommend that people at average risk of colorectal cancer start routine screening at age 45.
Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, and colorectal cancer rates in persons under age 50 have doubled in the past three decades. DHPA is concerned that the updated ACP guidelines could create confusion among patients and providers, potentially undermining the progress that has been made in the early detection and prevention of young-onset colorectal cancer.
There are many options for colorectal cancer screening and patients should discuss all available screening tests with their primary care physician or gastroenterologist. Colonoscopy is the only screening test that both detects and prevents cancer by removing pre-cancerous polyps. It is also the only suitable test for people with risk factors such as a family history of colorectal cancer or a personal history of inflammatory bowel disease.
DHPA supports evidence-based guidelines that recommend colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk beginning at age 45. Depending on family history, screening might be recommended at age 40 or younger. DHPA will continue to advocate, along with our fellow gastroenterology societies, and physician and patient advocacy groups, for policies that increase access to life-saving colorectal cancer screenings.