American Cancer Society changes guidelines, recommends colonoscopy at age 45

The American Cancer Society has changed its colorectal cancer screening guidelines.

The group said people should get a colonoscopy at age 45 instead of the previous recommendation of 50.

Getting a colonoscopy may not be at the top of anyone’s to-do list, but it’s the most effective way to detect and, in many cases, stop the disease before it progresses.

Cancer survivor Carmen Breedlove was diagnosed at age 40. She said everyone needs to take the new guidelines seriously.

“I tell people all the time, would you rather have a colonoscopy, or an ileostomy bag? Or surgeries?” Breedlove said.

“When I was diagnosed they did more scans, found out it was stage four and had gotten into my liver,” she said.

Breedlove said she’s heartened by the change but believes the guideline should go even lower. She encountered many younger people while she was going through treatment and said it’s imperative that people don’t wait if they experience any symptoms.

Dr. Bert O’Neil, an oncologist with IU Health, echoed those concerns.

“For the past, maybe as much as ten years, we’re seeing younger and younger patients with advanced colon cancer,” O’Neil said.

When an organization like the American Cancer Society changes its recommendations, insurance companies typically follow suit. Still, you should check with your insurance provider to see what they cover before you schedule a colonoscopy.

Learn about the symptoms of colorectal cancer from the American Cancer Society’s website.