By Amy Norton
MONDAY, Oct. 30, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Currently, people at average risk of colon cancer are told to start screening for the disease at age 50. although a brand new study raises the question of whether earlier screening could be better.
Looking at more than 6,000 patients who underwent colonoscopies, French researchers found the rate of abnormal colon growths started out to rise sharply at age 45.
Among 45- to 49-year-old patients, 26 percent showed growths called adenomas — a type of polyp of which could eventually become cancerous. of which compared with 13 percent of patients ages 40 to 44.
In addition, so-called “neoplastic” growths were found in nearly 4 percent of patients ages 45 to 49 — versus only 0.8 percent of people in their early 40s. A neoplasm refers to a brand new, uncontrolled growth of abnormal tissue, which can be cancerous or not.
According to lead researcher Dr. David Karsenti, the preliminary findings argue for earlier colon cancer screening — starting at age 45, rather than 50.
Karsenti can be a gastroenterologist with Clinique de Bercy in Charenton-le-Pont, France. He was scheduled to present the findings Monday at the United European Gastroenterology meeting, in Barcelona, Spain.
He said of which based on the neoplasm rate among 45- to 49-year-olds, delaying screening to age 50 could potentially dim some patients’ chances of surviving colon cancer.
However, an expert with the American Cancer Society said no conclusions can be drawn coming from the findings.
Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer for the cancer society, pointed to a “major problem” with the study: All of the patients were referred to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy, presumably because they had symptoms.
In contrast, colon cancer screening, by definition, can be done when people are symptom-free. The point can be to catch cancer early or, better yet, abnormal growths of which can be removed before they have a chance to become cancerous.
“These findings aren’t going to change what we recommend as far as screening average-risk people,” Brawley said.
The cancer society in addition to also additional medical groups suggest people at average risk of colon cancer begin screening for the disease at age 50. of which can be done in several ways — including a colonoscopy every 10 years, or yearly stool tests.
of which recommendation, Brawley said, can be based on strong evidence of which screening coming from age 50 onward cuts the risk of dying coming from colon cancer. of which evidence includes findings coming from several clinical trials, which are considered the “gold standard” in medicine, he said.
There can be no similar support for routinely screening younger people, Brawley said.
However, he stressed, earlier screening can be advised for those at higher-than-average risk of colon cancer. of which includes people using a strong family history of colon cancer.
According to the cancer society, a “strong” family history means having a first-degree blood relative who was diagnosed with colon cancer or adenomas before age 60 — or two first-degree relatives diagnosed at any age. A first-degree relative can be a parent, sibling or child.
Those people, the guidelines say, should start screening either at age 40, or 10 years before the earliest diagnosis from the family.
So the idea’s important, Brawley said, of which people find out their family history in order to know whether they are at average or higher risk.
Why not just screen younger people, even if the idea hasn’t been proven to prevent colon cancer deaths?
With any screening tests, there are risks, Brawley said. Less-invasive tests can give “false-positive” results of which lead to needless invasive tests, in addition to also invasive tests carry a higher risk of harm.
Colonoscopies have a modest risk of bleeding, bowel tears in addition to also infections, the cancer society notes. Then there’s the expense in addition to also the unpleasant bowel preparation before the procedure.
So before subjecting healthy people to screening tests, Brawley explained, the idea’s important to know of which the idea’s worth the idea.
of which said, younger people do sometimes develop colon cancer even if they are not known to be higher-risk. Brawley said more research can be needed to understand why, in addition to also whether different screening approaches would likely be beneficial.
“We need more solid, well-designed studies to look at colon cancer in younger people,” he said.
On average, Americans have between a 4 in addition to also 5 percent lifetime chance of developing colon cancer, the cancer society says. When the disease can be caught early, the several-year survival rate can be around 0 percent.
Research presented at meetings can be usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Copyright © 2017 HealthDay. All rights reserved.
SOURCES: David Karsenti, M.D., gastroenterologist, Clinique de Bercy, Charenton-le-Pont, France; Otis Brawley, M.D., chief medical officer, American Cancer Society, Atlanta; Oct. 30, 2017 presentation, United European Gastroenterology annual meeting, Barcelona, Spain
Subscribe to MedicineNet’s Cancer Report Newsletter