Published on March 16, 2021

New Guidelines Screen for Colorectal Cancer Beginning at 45

Photo of MidMichigan Healt Colorectal Surgeon, Kristin Busch, M.D.

MidMichigan Health Colorectal Surgeon, Kristin Busch, M.D.

With colorectal cancer deaths among people age 55 and younger increasing over the past several years, the American Society of Colon and Rectal Surgeons, the American Cancer Society and, as of 2020, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, now recommend colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45, instead of at age 50 as previously recommended. These recommendations are for people who are at average risk with no family history of colon or rectal cancer.

“If someone has a family history of colon or rectal cancer or other genetic syndromes that put them at higher risk, they may need to undergo colorectal cancer screening sooner,” said MidMichigan Health Colorectal Surgeon, Kristin Busch, M.D. “Early detection is key. There are many screening tests available that can effectively screen for colorectal cancer. The first step should begin with a discussion with one’s primary care provider about which type of test is best.”

Current screening tests include stool tests to look for blood or DNA in the stool, with several kits now available that can be done at home.

“If the test comes back positive, I encourage you to schedule a colonoscopy to look for polyps,” said Dr. Busch. “These polyps can usually be removed during the colonoscopy which can prevent colorectal cancer from occurring.”

Other ways to lower the risk of colorectal cancer includes maintaining a healthy weight, participating in regular physical activity, avoiding or stopping smoking, and eating a diet that is high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains and low in red and processed meats.

With March recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, MidMichigan Health recommends participating in a free, 5-minute Colorectal Health Assessment to help determine the risk of developing colorectal cancer. Those interested in taking the assessment or learning more about colorectal cancer may visit midmichigan.org/colon.