New colorectal cancer screening guidelines are issued

Local gastroenterologist welcomes the update.

Fred Bodimer
November 11, 2019 - 1:27 pm

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) -- The American College of Physicians has just released a new set of guidelines regarding when to go for colorectal cancer screening.  The updated guidelines were developed in consultation with the American Cancer Society, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and others.

"The new guidelines say if you are age 50 and up to age 75 you should be offered colon cancer screening," said Dr. Charlene Prather, a SLU Care gastroenterologist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital.  "The recommendation includes a colonoscopy every ten years or FIT testing -- Fecal Immunochemical Testing -- every other year with or without a flexible sigmoidoscopy."

Dr. Prather says these new guidelines differ from the old ones issued in 2015 in a couple of ways.

"There had been some recent suggestions -- because an earlier finding of cancer at younger ages -- to drop the age recommendation down from 50 to 45.  So that's been clarified to let's start at age 50," said Dr. Prather.  "The other is that there had been some ambiguity whether in certain situations we should consider screening after the age of 75.  And so these guidelines are saying let's focus on the age 50 to 75 group so we can really decrease the amount of colon cancer that's out there."

Dr. Prather welcomes the new guidelines.

"I think it's great," said Dr. Prather. "Anything we can do to get people at the doctor's office in order to get their colon cancer screening done is terrific -- as we reduce confusion, people know what to do and they can get it done."

The updated guidelines encourage physicians to discuss with patients the benefits, harms and associated costs of screening methods before pursuing any procedure.

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