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Should Colon Cancer Screening Start at 45, not 50?

Published on 01 November 2017 back to previous

Currently, people at average risk of colon cancerare told to start screening for the disease at age 50. But a new study raises the question of whether earlier screening could be better.

Looking at more than 6,000 patients who underwent colonoscopies, French researchers found the rate of abnormal colon growths started to rise sharply at age 45.

Among 45- to 49-year-old patients, 26 percent showed growths called adenomas -- a type of polyp that could eventually become cancerous. That compared with 13 percent of patients ages 40 to 44.

In addition, so-called "neoplastic" growths were found in nearly 4 percent of patients ages 45 to 49 -- versus only 0.8 percent of people in their early 40s. A neoplasm refers to a new, uncontrolled growth of abnormal tissue, which can be cancerous or not.

According to lead researcher Dr. David Karsenti, the preliminary findings argue for earlier colon cancer screening -- starting at age 45, rather than 50.

Karsenti is a gastroenterologist with Clinique de Bercy in Charenton-le-Pont, France. He was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the United European Gastroenterology meeting, in Barcelona, Spain.

He said that based on the neoplasm rate among 45- to 49-year-olds, delaying screening to age 50 could potentially dim some patients' chances of surviving colon cancer.

However, an expert with the American Cancer Society said no conclusions can be drawn from the findings.

Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the cancer society, pointed to a "major problem" with the study: All of the patients were referred to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy, presumably because they had symptoms.

By Amy Norton

HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News)

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