Colorectal cancer screening now recommended five years earlier

Colorectal cancer is the third-leading cause of American cancer deaths, and new research suggests screening should start five years earlier.

Most often diagnosed in adults over 65, colorectal screenings are typically recommended from age 50. But this month, the American Cancer Society (ACS) updated its advice and now recommends screening start at age 45. The changed recommendation reflects evidence that men and women aged 50 and under are at greater risk of developing colon and rectal cancers than previous generations.

"We don't know exactly why colon and rectal cancers are on the rise," says Dr. Lee Schwartzberg, Executive Director of West Cancer Center (WCC), a leading cancer research and treatment practice and oncology scientific lead at George Clinical.

"Increasing rates of obesity could add to the problem as it is a known risk factor — and detection of colorectal cancers is improving — but ultimately, they don't explain the increased risk for Americans under 50."

When caught early, colon cancer has a relatively successful treatment rate, but only two-thirds of Americans over 50 are screened. And while other cancer groups will maintain the recommendation that colorectal screening start at age 50, the new advice will likely prompt more research into the benefits and harms of earlier screening, as well as studies to examine the increase of colorectal cancers in younger people. Potential risk factors could include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medicines, antidepressants, or vitamins and dietary supplements.

"Increasing awareness and rates of colorectal cancer screening is a priority," says Dr. Schwartzberg.

"The updated screening advice will draw attention to the issue, and we will see more research to try to answer the question of why younger Americans are at higher risk of colorectal cancers."

George Clinical is a leading independent Asia-Pacific based clinical research organisation (CRO) with global capabilities differentiated by scientific leadership, innovation, and extensive investigator networks. With staff operating in 15 countries, George Clinical provides the full range of clinical trial services to biopharmaceutical, medical device, and diagnostic customers, for all trial phases, registration, and post-marketing trials.

For their Oncology offerings, George Clinical works closely with scientific leaders from West Cancer Centre, a US-based leader in care and research, and combines this scientific and clinical leadership with an expert trial delivery capability to create a distinctive world-class service.