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Do You Know the Updated Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines?

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Do You Know the Updated Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines?

Nearly 150,000 people are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year in the United States. It’s the third most common type of cancer (excluding skin cancers) among people of all genders — yet many people don’t know if or when they should get screened.

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, and our team at AssociatesMD is here to educate our patients about the importance of routine diagnostic screenings

Colorectal cancer is potentially deadly, but with early detection and intervention, it's highly treatable. Here’s what you should know about the updated colorectal cancer screening guidelines.

Why colorectal cancer screening matters

Colorectal cancer develops when cells inside your colon (large intestine) or rectum multiply uncontrollably. Usually, it doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms in its early stages.

That means regular colorectal cancer screening is the most effective method for early detection. Detecting colorectal cancer early significantly increases treatment success rates and improves overall prognosis.

When to schedule colorectal cancer screenings

Historically, guidelines recommended initiating colorectal cancer screening at age 50 for average-risk individuals. However, recent updates from several leading medical organizations — including the American Cancer Society — have lowered the recommended age to 45.

This adjustment reflects the rising incidence of colorectal cancer among younger populations. If you have a family history of colorectal cancer or certain genetic syndromes, you might have an increased risk of developing the disease, and we may recommend earlier and more frequent screenings.

How often you need colorectal cancer screenings depends on several factors, like your age, your personal medical history, and your family history. For individuals with average risk, screening intervals typically range from every year to every ten years.

What colorectal cancer screening methods are available

Many screening methods are available, and each has its advantages and considerations. Depending on your situation, we may recommend:

Visual colorectal cancer screenings

Colonoscopy is the most common colorectal cancer screening. It’s a comprehensive procedure that allows doctors to examine your entire colon and rectum for abnormalities. A flexible sigmoidoscopy is similar to a colonoscopy, but it focuses on examining only the lower portion of your colon.

Another option is a virtual colonoscopy (CT colonography). This non-invasive imaging test provides detailed images of your colon and rectum using computed tomography (CT) scans.

Stool-based colorectal cancer screenings

Stool-based screenings are non-invasive tests that detect blood or DNA markers in your stool, indicating the presence of colorectal cancer or precancerous lesions.

Highly sensitive fecal immunochemical tests (FITs) and highly sensitive guaiac-based fecal occult blood tests (gFOBTs) need to be done annually, while multi-targeted stool DNA tests (mt-sDNAs) can be done every three years.

It's important to discuss the advantages and limitations of each screening method with our team to determine the most suitable option for your needs and preferences. And remember that ongoing research and technological advancements continue to enhance colorectal cancer screening methods.

From innovative imaging techniques to the development of novel biomarkers, these advancements hold promise for improving early detection and treatment outcomes. Staying informed about the updated colorectal cancer screening guidelines is essential, and we’re here to help.

Get your questions answered and find out which diagnostic screenings might be right for you with a consultation at AssociatesMD. Call us at 844-954-3627 or request an appointment online to get started.