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Does Screening for Colon Cancer at Age 45 Make Any Difference?

The University of California Irvine’s researchers have noticed a unique trend: colorectal cancer is affecting people at a younger age. Dr. Jason Samarasena who’s an associate professor from the same university says this trend may be partly connected to the rising cases of obesity in the U.S.

Since these cases occur in most people under 50 years, at a time when health professionals start screening for colorectal cancer, they end up getting diagnosed at a later stage, and that may require more treatment later on.

Treating colon cancer requires costly specialist care and medication. This may involve chemotherapy, frequent colonoscopy procedures, and surgery.

Initially, doctors were required to start colon cancer screening at the age of 50. But, the American Cancer Society released new guidelines that recommend annual screening of the disease, and it should start at the age of 45. The organization suggests that people need to undergo non-invasive fecal tests, among other tests such as colonoscopy and imaging of the colon, every five to 10 years.

Recent studies show that millennials are at a higher risk of developing colon cancer and four times more likely to develop rectal cancer than people born 40 years earlier.

When people start the screening at 45, it will be easy to detect cancer and any precancerous polyps early enough. Through early detection and excision of the polyps, more people will be protected.

Although it’s too early to debate whether all health insurance firms will cover the earlier suggested screenings, experts say early prevention will reduce treatment costs later on. The screening costs will be offset by the reduced costs in avoiding treating the disease in its advanced form.

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