Today's action by the American Cancer Society does not mean colorectal cancer screening tests will now be covered by insurance plans. That produced a result that showed the lifesaving potential of earlier screening, the group said.
Colon cancer signs can include persistent cramps and changes in bowel habits, along with bloody stools. It has now lowered that to age 45.
While few trials have looked at screening 45-year-olds, new statistical models reviewed by the cancer society showed that the younger group should benefit almost as much as slightly older adults do, Wolf said.
If the test is positive, a colonoscopy is recommended, Wender says, but only one in five people test positive for blood in their stool.
Cologuard is now available to individuals age 50 and older who are at average risk for colorectal cancer.
Guidelines from other groups still recommend age 50 as the screening starting point for most people.
The updated guidelines come on the heels of what seems to be a rise in colorectal cancer among younger adults. A recent American Cancer Society study by Siegel found that adults born in 1990 have twice the risk of colon cancer and four times the risk of rectal cancer compared to the risk adults born in 1950 faced at a comparable age.
Currently, USPSTF, a government-backed independent panel that assesses the evidence for medical procedures, recommends screening from the age of 50.
Time will tell whether other leading health organizations follow in the American Cancer Society's footsteps with recommending screening for adults younger than 50.
Every year in the United States, about 140,000 new cases of colorectal cancer will be diagnosed and over 50,000 Americans will die from the disease. The company has exclusive intellectual property protecting its non-invasive, molecular screening technology for the detection of colorectal cancer. Earlier screening has been reserved for people at increased risk. Tests showed Fiske had colorectal cancer that had spread to his liver.
Those at high risk, especially African Americans, Native Americans, or those like Fiske who have a family history should get screened at an even younger age. By 2030, 10.9 percent of all colon cancers and 22.9 percent of all rectal cancers will be diagnosed in patients younger than age 50.
Meanwhile, colon cancer rates in people older than 55 are declining, largely due to screening and removal of precancerous polyps.
On Wednesday, Georges noted that the new Cancer Society guidelines for screening to start at age 45 are for those at average risk.
Andrea Cercek, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NY, said the updated guidelines may "capture a population at risk".
But the ACS commissioned a "modeling" study in developing the new guidelines. The advocacy group was influenced by its study, published past year, that found rising rates of colon cancer and deaths in people younger than 50.
Screening is generally done routinely every ten years.