Why it’s important to keep up colorectal cancer screenings, especially now.
No matter what’s happening around us, cancer doesn’t take a pause, and neither should preventive cancer screenings.
Unfortunately, it seems that many people continue to put colorectal screenings on hold, with colonoscopies taking a dip over the last several years. According to Dr. Angela Alistar, a gastrointestinal oncologist with Atlantic Health System’s Morristown Medical Center, that decrease in screening can have dangerous consequences.
“Around 1 in 3 adults between 50 and 75 years old—that’s about 23 million people—do not get screened as recommended,” adds Dr Alistar. “Routine colon cancer screenings aid in the detection and removal of precancerous polyps and have helped lower the number of deaths per year from this disease.”
However, rapid increases in colorectal cancer among younger adults has led to new recommendations that encourage people to start screening at age 45 instead of 50.
“Unfortunately, this cancer is striking at an earlier age,” said Dr. Sophie Morse, a gastrointestinal oncologist at Atlantic Health System’s Overlook Medical Center. “The median age at diagnosis is now so much younger, so we don’t want to miss those early cases. If colon cancer is caught early, it’s very curable.”
Here’s what’s important to know about why colorectal cancer and colonoscopy screenings are so important, according to the numbers:
- Colorectal cancers are the second most common cause of cancer-related deaths for men and women combined.
- The American Cancer Society recommends that at age 45, people of average risk should get their first screening — five years earlier than previous guidelines.
- 91% vs. 14%: The five-year survival rates for cancer caught early versus cancer that’s already spread.
- Nearly one in three Americans aged 50 to 75 said that they have never had a colorectal cancer screening
- There are 52,580 predicted deaths that colorectal cancer will cause in 2022.
- There were 4,250 of new colon or rectal cancer cases reported in New Jersey in 2022. The colon cancer risk is rising in young adults.
- Colorectal Cancer death rates are 40% higher for African Americans.