The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force on May 18 published its final recommendations for colorectal cancer screenings in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The recommendations include physicians beginning screening for patients at 45 instead of 50, and that screening continue for patients between 50 and 75 years old. The decision to screen patients between 76 and 85 years old was recommended to be made on an individual basis. The final recommendation included direct visualization tests and stool-based tests as screening options for colorectal cancer. All recommendations apply to every adult, regardless of whether they show symptoms, have a history of colorectal polyps or have a family history of genetic disorders that increase the risk of colorectal cancer.
The task force also encouraged physicians to connect with Black patients for screening because they are more likely to be diagnosed with and die from colorectal cancer than people of other ethnicities and races.
The task force lowered the recommended start age to 45 in the hopes of preventing more deaths from colorectal cancer, which is the third leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S. Multiple organizations announced their support of the task force's decision to lower the age, including the American Gastroenterological Association, American College of Gastroenterology and the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy.
"These new USPSTF recommendations, and those forthcoming from our Multi-Society Task Force not only align national policy with existing recommendations by key stakeholders, but also open up screening for younger people, increasing our ability to detect pre-cancerous lesions and cancers earlier, thereby decreasing the burden of illness and risk of mortality from colorectal cancer," the organizations said in a May 18 press release.
The recommendation to screen patients between the ages of 50 and 75 was given the highest recommendation based on evidence that screening tests are effective.