Colon cancer screening change: What you should know

Karmanos Cancer Center at McLaren Macomb

The troubling trend of an increasing number of people under the age of 50 being diagnosed with colon cancer has prompted the American Cancer Society to revise its recommended screening age, lowering it to 45 from 50.

Colon cancer, when combined with rectal cancer, is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the United States, next to lung cancer. (The American Cancer Society projects 140,000 cases diagnosed and 50,000 deaths from colon cancer in the US in 2018.)

Dr. Rana Bilbeisi
"The revision of these guidelines will be extremely beneficial to those, who in recent years, are at an increasingly elevated risk for colon cancer," said Dr. Rana Bilbeisi, a hematologist and oncologist with the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb. "With a screening, we have a greater chance of catching the cancer in an early stage, giving us an advantage in treatment and a successful outcome."

The majority of colon cancers are diagnosed in adults 55 and older, but for reasons unknown to clinical experts, the rate of cases in patients under 50 has increased by 50 percent in the past 20 years.

And while the number of diagnosed cases and overall deaths have been on the decline, the increase in diagnosis of those under 50 motivated the screening recommendation change.

The new screening recommendations cover those aged 45 to 75"“both men and women"“with an average risk for colon cancer. Certain ailments and chronic conditions might put those outside of the age range at an increased risk. A physician will make the determination if their patient requires a screening.

Those screenings include take-home stool sample kits, colonoscopy, CT colonoscopy and others.

Talk to your primary care physician to see if they recommend a colon cancer screening.

To learn more about cancer services offered at the Karmanos Cancer Institute at McLaren Macomb, visit