Earlier ACS Screening Guidelines for Colorectal Cancer

Earlier Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines
This page was originally published May 15, 2018 and updated June 6, 2024.

With any cancer, early detection can be the key to survival. Effective screening programs are an essential method of catching cancer early, when treatment and cure is possible.

New Earlier Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society, based on new research published in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians, now recommends that for those at average risk colon cancer screenings begin at age 45 instead of 50 because of the dramatic increase in colon cancer diagnosis in this younger age group.

Chief Control Officer for the American Cancer Society, Doctor Richard Wender, told NBC News, “People born in the 80s and 90s are at double the risk for developing cancer of the colon and four times the risk for developing cancer of the rectum compared to people born decades earlier like the 40s and 50s. We’re actually seeing colorectal cancer developing in people in their teens, which is something that was extraordinarily rare in the past, and it’s all too common today.”

Research experts recommend patients have regular screenings using a high-sensitivity stool-based test or a visual exam. One advantage of a visual exam like a colonoscopy is that precancerous lesions known as polyps can be detected – and removed – right then and there, meaning that colonoscopies actually take care of trouble before it starts.

Those at higher risk for colon cancer due to genetics, personal history of cancer or polyps, or prior abdominal radiation especially need to consider earlier screening. The American Cancer Society  and other medical professionals recommend screening by age 40.

Daniel Labow, Chief of the Surgical Oncology Division at Mount Sinai Health System in New York said: “If there is any symptom whatsoever… I use it as an excuse to get a colonoscopy. The threshold to do a screening test is extremely low for me, particularly in anybody who’s over age 40.”

Screening Saves Lives

According to the 20202 Cancer Facts and Figures, Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed in the United States. Colon and rectal cancer is responsible for an estimated 50,000 deaths every year in the United States with 135,000 new diagnoses combined for both diseases.

Earlier detection and screening programs not only lessen the impact of a colorectal cancer diagnosis but also end up saving lives lost to this terrible disease. In fact, this research study demonstrated a decrease in colorectal cancer deaths with this increased screening and testing.

Free Colon Cancer Screenings:

Screening is usually covered by most insurers but if you are uninsured or cannot afford screening, please do not delay care. Low- and no-cost programs are available to help you. Check out this link for more information on the CDC’s Colorectal Cancer Control Program (CRCCP) and locate a free or reduced-cost colorectal cancer screening program in your area:


Financial Help for Colorectal Cancer Patients

Finances should never get in the way of quality medical care. For anyone who’s been diagnosed with colon or rectal cancer, the expenses can mount quickly. If you need help paying the bills please see our resource links for free financial help just for you.

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  1. Thsnka for sharing colorectal cancer screening guideline. I hope this will spread cancer awareness in society

    • You are welcome, Lisa. Early screening is so important and we are doing what we can to help spread the word.

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