45 the age for colorectal screening

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 11, 2005

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New recommendations by the American College of Gastroenterology call for colorectal cancer screening to begin at age 45 rather than 50 for African-Americans. The younger age was called for because of the high incidence of colorectal cancer among this group, said the committee that drafted the recommendations.

In addition, colonoscopy should be the "first line" screening treatment rather than flexible sigmoidoscopy, because there is a greater prevalence of proximal or right-sided polyps and cancerous lesions among African-Americans. The right side of the colon, which includes the cecum, ascending colon and proximal transverse colon, cannot be reached by flexible sigmoidoscopy.

The recommendations are published in the March issue of the American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. African-Americans are diagnosed with colorectal cancer at a younger age than whites and also have a decreased survival rate compared with whites, said the committee that wrote the recommendations. Evidence also suggests that African-Americans are more responsive to screening recommendations from their personal physicians than from other sources, the committee said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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