DES MOINES, Iowa — The United States Preventive Services Task Force has recently reduced the age Americans should get colon cancer screenings from 50 to 45.
The Medical Director for UnityPoint Health’s John Stoddard Cancer Center, Dr. Andrew Nish explained the reason for this change is that the medical community has seen a two percent increase in colorectal cancer in people under the age of 50.
“If we detect a colon cancer, very early stage one over a 90% survival rate for that, if it goes to stage four, where it’s spread from the colon to other organs, the survival rate is less than 15%,” Dr. Nish said. “So it really is about detecting those cancers early so they can be effectively treated.”
Dr. Nish said during the pandemic, cancer centers nationwide have seen a huge dip in screenings.
According to the National Cancer Institute, if more people don’t start getting these annual checkups, the United States will see an additional 10,000 deaths from lung, prostate, breast, and colon cancer.
This is why the American Cancer Society and Commission on Cancer is working on a project called, ‘Return To Screenings’ to make people feel more comfortable going back into hospitals during the pandemic.
“The risk of getting COVID from screenings is way less than the risk of letting a cancer be advanced over time. Everybody should be back to screenings. Screening is safe, screening is effective, and your risk of COVID from a screening test is absolutely minimal,” Dr. Nish said.