45 is the new 50

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Last week The American Cancer Society announced people should start screening for colon cancer five years earlier than previously recommended, at age 45 instead of 50. WEAU Health Correspondent Dr. Alicia Arnold sat down with Tyler Mickelson to talk about the change. Their Q&A can be found below and you can watch the video above to learn more.

Why is this change important? Why did The American Cancer Society decide to make the change?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “In the U.S. colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death. Since 1994, there has been a 51 percent increase in rate of colon cancer in people younger than 50. Not only are more young people being diagnosed with colon cancer, but more people are dying from the disease. The American Cancer Society released these new recommendations because their analysis indicated that starting screening earlier would save lives for people at average disease risk.”

Does early detection have a significant impact if cancer is found?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “When cancer is detected earlier, it is frequently easier to treat. Also, with a colonoscopy, precancerous polyps can be identified and removed. When these growths are removed early, they don’t even have a chance to develop into cancer.”

If there are adults at home thinking, ‘I'm 45 and I live a healthy life and I feel fine, I don't need this’, do they have a point? Or, is this for everyone?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “The statistics are alarming about the rising rates of colon cancer in young people. Data suggests that people born in 1990 will have double the risk of colon cancer as people born in 1950. No one is certain why exactly it is happening, although it may be linked with food choices or obesity. One of the things some are concerned about is whether insurance plans are going to reimburse for those who would like to screen from age 45-50, since some older screening recommendations from other professional societies still recommend starting at age 50. Sometimes people are nervous about having a colonoscopy, but there are other options besides a traditional colonoscopy, such as stool testing.”

While researching this segment I've noticed ‘family history’ mentioned several times. If colon cancer is in your family from previous generations, is the age of 45 still the go-to?

Dr. Alicia Arnold, “The age of 45 as recommended by the American Cancer Society is for folks who have average risk. Those who have family histories may be counseled to start screening earlier than 45 or to screen more frequently. I would encourage anyone with a family history of cancer to discuss it with their health care provider to get personalized recommendations.”

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