US Preventive Services Task Force to recommend lowering CRC screening age to 45

After much debate, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force will issue guidance to lower the colorectal cancer screening age to 45 in response to growing early-onset CRC rates, NBC News reports.

The task force issued draft guidelines Oct. 27. The guidelines are the latest in a growing number to recommend lowering the age. The American Cancer Society was the first to recommend lowering the age in May 2018.

It's likely the task force's guidance will convince CMS and private payers to cover screening colonoscopies for the 45-49-year-old age range, experts told NBC.

Early-onset CRC is an alarming trend that has confounded researchers. John Wong, MD, chief scientific officer at Boston-based Tufts Medical Center, said that 10.3 percent of new CRC cases have occurred in people under the age of 50. New data also suggests that 45-year-old people face the same risk of developing CRC that 50-year-old people do.

Otis Brawley, MD, a professor of oncology at Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said to NBC that the change is a breakthrough.

"The USPSTF tends to be the most conservative and orthodox group in their interpretation of the scientific literature, and they rarely make a big change like this," he said to NBC. "They are seeing the same thing the American Cancer Society sees."

Want to share what the decision will mean to your practice? Email eoliver@beckershealthcare.com.

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