WICHITA, Kan. (KSNT) – Catching it early, doctors are now advising you to get checked for colorectal cancer beginning at age 45 instead of 50.
The United States Preventative Services Task Force dropped the recommended age by five years due to an increase in younger people getting diagnosed with colorectal cancer.
Back in 2009, it was a challenge Debbie Hernandez Mitchell dealt with.
“Well, I think that that was part of it is that nobody thought that it was colon cancer,” the 42-year-old said. “Typically they’re trained that people — when they’re 50, they get colonoscopies and that’s when you start looking for it.”
However, Hernandez Mitchell got the news she never expected.
“It turned out that I had a mass about the size of a softball and a half in my stomach, and so it turned out it was colon cancer,” she said.
It was stage four colon cancer that had spread to her other organs.
“They told me I had about one to three years to live,” Hernandez Mitchell said.
Fortunately, she beat the odds. Back then, Hernandez Mitchell was outside of the recommended age range to get a colonoscopy. Now, doctors say it’s more common to see younger adults get colorectal cancer.
“The rate of colon cancer and rectal cancer in young adults less than 50 has doubled recently, we don’t really know why that has happened,” said Dr. David Bryant, M.D. Radiation Oncology at Ascension Via Christi. “We think it may be related to the obesity epidemic,” he added.
This is why the United States Preventative Services Task Force dropped the recommended age from 50 to 45. Dr. Bryant says this can help save lives.
“Because these screening tools are so effective at finding cancers early or even finding precancerous lesions that can be treated before it turns into cancer.”
KDHE data shows nearly 1,300 Kansans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer each year. Making it the third most common cancer in men and women.
There are six types of screenings that can be done, some even available to be done from the comfort of your home.
Hernandez Mitchell feels the change in age will help remove barriers.
“It gets rid of that excuse, gee, I can’t, my insurance won’t pay for the colonoscopy.”
“There are very few people that would die in America if everybody had their colon cancer screened for,” Dr. Bryant said.
If you are interested in finding out more information about colorectal cancer screening you can reach out to Ascension Via Christi’s Oncology Nurse Navigator to go over options at (316) 268-5018.