New ACP guidance says adults should get screened for colorectal cancer starting at age 50

The American College of Physicians (ACP) has released a new guidance statement for colorectal cancer screening recommending that physicians perform an individualized risk assessment for colorectal cancer in all adults.

For adults at average risk, physicians should screen for colorectal cancer starting at age 50. For adults at high risk (strong family history, personal history, inflammatory bowel disease) screening should begin 40, or 10 years younger than the age at which the youngest affected relative was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

The guidance statement appears in the March 6 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine. ACP said the authors performed a rigorous review of available guidelines to inform the guidance statement.

ACP noted that even though the effectiveness of colorectal cancer screening in reducing deaths is supported by the available evidence, only about 60 percent of American adults aged 50 and older get screened.

The guidance statement does not recommend continued screening for colorectal cancer in adults over the age of 75 or in adults with a life expectancy of less than 10 years because the potential harms of screening outweigh the potential benefits.

Click here to listen to an audio summary of the ACP guidance statement.

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