Early Screening For Colon Cancer Could Save Lives

Jun 1, 2018

The American Cancer Society has announced new recommendations for colon and rectal cancer screenings. The new guidelines lower the age from 50 to 45, following a rise in cases in younger people.

Indiana University Health oncologist Bert O’Neil says the new guidelines will save lives.

"There has been discussion about this for a long time because we see many patients in their 30’s and 40’s developing advanced colon cancer because of a lack of screening," says O'Neil.

The underlying cause of the spike in cases among younger people is unknown but O’Neil says obesity and diet are linked to colon cancer.

There are other screening options but colonoscopy remains the best screening options for the cancer. O’Neil says the test can also include treatment.

"If you find for example a polyp and remove it at the same time then you have prevented a future cancer in that person," says O'Neil.

O’Neil says Hoosiers have higher rates of colon cancer than the national average and are more likely to die from the disease.

"5.7 percent of all cancer deaths in Indiana are from colon cancer," O'Neil says.

More than 60 percent of eligible Hoosiers received a screening in 2014.