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Healthbeat 4: Colorectal cancer screening guidelines

According to the American Cancer Society in 2018 more than 140,000 people will be diagnosis with either colon or rectal cancer. 

The ACS is hoping to reduce that number by recommending colorectal cancer screenings as young as 45 — down from the previously recommended age of 50.

"We’ve actually been finding more polyps in folks in younger age, anywhere from age from 35 to 50. There’s been more incidents of colon cancer as well that we’ve seen in the age of 45 to 50," said Dr. Jeff Michalak, "Even just in my personal experience I’ve diagnosed colon cancer from the ages of 40 to 50. I even had a patient at the age of 34 who developed it."

In fact, according to the ACS, the risk of colorectal cancer in adults between the ages of 45 and 49 is continuously rising. 

Between 1994 and 2014, researchers detected a 50-percent rise in colorectal cancer rates among adults under age 50. 

"There’s probably multiple reasons why we are seeing them earlier than we did in the past whether it’s genetics, dietary changes."

Dr. Michalak adds there are other ways to check for colorectal cancer like a stool-based tests, but says a colonoscopy is really the best chance to catch the cancer early.

"it’s diagnostic and therapeutic at the same time. you can do the procedure, you can find these lesions before they become into cancer, you can resection them and therefore decrease the risk of complications down the road and even death."

And knowing the risks and symptoms of colorectal cancer is key to early detection.

"Change in bowel habits, if there’s any bleeding at all, if anyone is becoming anemic, unexplained weightloss. When I saw change in bowel habits,whether it’s constipation or loose stool."

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