Getting screened for colon cancer is no longer a rite-of-passage for a 50-year-old, at least according to the American Cancer Society. In updated guidelines released Wednesday, it inched the recommended age to 45. NPR explains that doesn't mean getting a colonoscopy. The new recommendations detail six screening options, which include kits that allow patients to collect a sample at home and send it directly to a lab that looks in the stool for microscopic blood—the presence of which would then likely necessitate a colonoscopy.
A press release notes there has been a 51% rise in colorectal cancer among the under-50 group since 1994. Compared to those born around 1950, those born around 1990 have two times the colon cancer risk and four times the rectal cancer risk. "We just have to face reality," says Dr. Richard Wender, the American Cancer Society's chief cancer control officer. "We just don't know why it's increasing." But USA Today notes the recommendation isn't 45 across the board: The "influential US Preventive Services Task Force" still uses 50 as the threshold and last reviewed its guidance in 2016. (Read more colon cancer stories.)