screening age for colorectal cancer

A recent study has found that a high proportion of colorectal cancer patients are below the recommended screening age of 50 years, calling into question current screening age for colorectal cancer.


A new study has reported that a significant number of patients with colon cancer are younger than the current colorectal cancer screening guideline-recommended age of 50 years. Not only are patients being diagnosed at a younger age, but the number of patients being diagnosed at ages younger than 50 is on the rise.

The research, published in the journal Cancer, retrospectively analysed a group of patients who were either younger or older than the current recommended screening age, with the aims of assessing differences in disease progression, responses to therapy, and survival. Over 250 000 patients were included in the study, of whom, almost 38 000 were younger than 50 years of age. The researchers found that this younger group of patients, who were diagnosed with colorectal cancer before 50 years of age, were more likely to be at an advanced stage of the disease. However, because they tended to receive more aggressive therapy, their disease-free survival was also increased despite the higher percentage of advanced stage disease within the group.

Based on the results of the study, the researchers suggest improvements to both screening and risk-assessment for these patients should be made. However, when it comes to changing screening guidelines, one of the authors, Dr Samantha Hendren cautions. “This would be a big and costly change, and I don’t know whether it would help more people than it would hurt,” she says. “A lot of research would be required to understand this before any changes should be made.”



Abdelsattar, ZM, Wong, SL, Regenbogen, SE, Jomaa, DM, Hardiman, KM, Hendren, S. “Colorectal cancer outcomes and treatment patterns in patients too young for average-risk screening” Cancer Article first published online: 25 JAN 2016;jsessionid=BAA0C02E5D7DE80D3976DDB3681138B0.f01t01


University of Michigan Health System News Release: 1 in 7 Colorectal Cancer Patients Diagnosed Before Recommended Screening Age” Available from: Last Accessed: January 25, 2016.







Written by Deborah Tallarigo, PhD

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