Doctors hopeful new colon cancer screening recommendations help identify risk sooner
The American Cancer Society now recommends you get a colonoscopy at age 45, which is five years sooner than previous standards. If you have a family history, it could be much sooner than that.
Jordan Delapoer knew it was only a matter of time he'd end up in a Gastroenterologist's office.
“We kind of have a long family history of colon issues," he explains.
The father of two young boys got a colonoscopy at The Oregon Clinic recently.
“I wasn’t surprised when he told me I had some down there because we’ve had so many generations of people having something down there,” says Delapoer.
It was an advanced polyp, and Delapoer said, “I was glad to know and have it removed.”
"There are a number of shapes these will grow in," says Dr. Mike Owens, a Gastroenterologist with The Oregon Clinic. He explains that while colon cancer rates overall are decreasing, the rates are increasing in people younger than 50 years old.
The American Cancer Society now recommends the age of your first screening should be 45 instead of 50. For African Americans, it's always been 45 since the risk is higher though researchers do not yet know why.
“I think with the American Cancer Society guidelines are getting at is we haven’t identified all of the risks. Theories about why this is increasing and younger folks out there do include some of the known risk factors which are obesity, diabetes,” Dr. Owens explained.
And for those with a parent, or sibling with any history -- like Jordan Delapoer -- it's recommended you get checked 10 years prior to the age the family member had a problem. He's only 36.
"Clearly it made a big difference for me you know I’m still nine years before the recommended age and I had polyps that needed to be removed and it’s so easy and it’s so preventable," he said.
“We spend a lot of time trying to document family history," says Dr. Owens.
The bottom line is that early detection is critical.
"At first I was a little bit sheepish about talking about it and then it occurred to me that that was ridiculous and that you should talk about it," Delapoer said.
So far, the age change is solely an American Cancer Society recommendation. Doctors belonging to other societies are still analyzing the data before coming to a consensus.