New Guidelines For Colorectal Cancer Screening
March 7, 2012

New Guidelines For Colorectal Cancer Screening

Experts from the American College of Physicians (ACP) have issued new testing guidelines for patients who need colorectal cancer screening.

According to the ACP, colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women in the United States. The guidelines were brought forth to bring awareness to physicians and patients about understanding the benefits and harms of colorectal cancer screening.

Virginia L. Hood, MBBS, MPH, FACP, president of ACP said in a recent statement: “The American College of Physicians encourages adults to get screened for colorectal cancer starting at the age of 50. Only about 60 percent of American adults aged 50 and older get screened, even thought the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in reducing deaths is supported by the available evidence.”

All adults, regardless of age, should have an individual assessment of risk performed by their physician. Adults should be checked starting at the age of 50, and in adults with a family history of colorectal cancer or are considered a high risk because of inflammatory bowel syndrome or polyps should be checked at age 40.

Several methods are available to check for colorectal cancer. The gold standard is still colonoscopy, to be done every 10 years, flexible sigmoidoscopy, virtual colonoscopy, and double contrast barium enema should be repeated every five years and a fecal occult blood test should occur annually.

Patients over 75 are not recommended for continued screening, because of a life expectancy of less than 10 years. The risk factors for screening become more dangerous as adults age. The risk factors include possible bleeding, perforation of the intestine and adverse reactions because of preparation required for the test.

According to Ryan Jaslow of CBS News, 51,000 Americans will lose their lives to colorectal cancer, second only to lung cancer. Recent studies have shown that early detection saves lives. One study found that people who had a colonoscopy were 53 percent less likely to die from colon cancer than those not screened.

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.


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