New Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
July 12, 2018
Recently, the American Cancer Society (ACS) released its updated guidelines for colorectal cancer screening. One of the biggest takeaways is that most people should now start getting screened at the age of 45 (older guidelines recommended starting screenings at 50-years-old and above), though the ACS made some other changes that are also important to note.
Colorectal Cancer Facts
Colorectal cancers begin to grow in either the rectum or colon – so depending on where the cancer starts it may be called colon or rectal cancer as well. Colorectal cancers are typically precipitated by the development of polyps – or growths – that form along the inner lining of the colon or rectum. According to the ACS, the general rule of thumb when it comes to polyps is that certain kinds can change into cancer, but not all; it is for reasons like this that preventive screenings are so crucial.
The kinds of polyps that are most likely to develop into colorectal cancers are known as adenomatous polyps, or adenomas. Though adenomas do not always become cancerous, they are referred to as a pre-cancerous condition. When it comes to polyps linked to colorectal cancers, there are some other red flags to look out for. They are:
- Having more than 2 polyps;
- A polyp accompanied by dysplasia (another pre-cancerous condition), which is an abnormal area in the lining of the colon or rectum, or on a removed polyp and:
- Polyps larger than 1 cm
Depending on what stage of colorectal cancer a person has, his or her prognosis varies. There are many helpful and effective medical treatments out there, but none are accessible before a person gets diagnosed.
Some people are at a greater risk for developing colorectal cancers than others are. Some risk factors associated with colorectal cancers are manageable (or possible to change) while others are not. Some manageable risk factors include being physically inactive, eating a diet high in red meat, moderate-to-heavy amounts alcohol use, using tobacco products, and being overweight or obese.
Here are some of the ACS’ examples of colorectal cancer risk factors that people do not have control over:
- A personal OR family history of colorectal cancer or adenomas;
- A personal history of inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD;
- Having what is known as an “inherited syndrome”, like certain gene changes/mutations;
- Having Lynch syndrome, which is a type of colorectal cancer that is hereditary (or passed through familial genes), and:
- Being older
The ACS’ new guidelines are intended for people who are at an average risk for developing colorectal cancers. If a person has a personal history of colorectal cancer or other relevant risk factors, his or her doctor may decide it is important to get screened earlier or more frequently than the updated guidelines recommend.
Why is Getting Screened so Important?
Cancer screenings are generally able to identify abnormalities before a person starts to experience physical symptoms, which means that the cancer is most likely in an early stage. Early stage cancers are usually easier to treat – and sometimes even to cure. Screenings are also an effective form of preventive care, especially for people facing increased cancer risks due to family or personal history, or having other related medical conditions. If you have questions about getting screened, you should consult directly with your doctor.
New Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
The ACS determined that more and more young adults are being diagnosed with colorectal cancers, which is why it’s recommending that screenings start at 45-years-old instead of 50. Here are some other important notes from the ACS’ updated screening guidelines:
- Although there are numerous kinds of colorectal cancer screening tests, it is MOST important to get screened regardless of which method is used, and:
- Individuals who are in good health and have a life expectancy of more than 10 years should continue getting screened for colorectal cancers until they are 75-years-old (after that, they should discuss what the best course of action is with their medical provider)
If you want to learn more about what screening options are available or what some of the other known colorectal cancer risk factors are, please visit the ACS’ website.
When healthcare professionals are negligent – or fail to stay within the accepted standard of care – the results can be catastrophic. If you have colorectal cancer but were misdiagnosed or experienced other serious problems with a healthcare provider or hospital, a representative at our firm may be able to help answer your questions and guide you through the legal process.
Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Victims of Medical Negligence
At Galfand Berger, our medical malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia are experienced in representing victims of medical negligence. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.