Guidelines for Colonoscopy Screening

Detecting and Preventing Colorectal Cancer

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer diagnosed, excluding skin cancers, in both men and women in the United States. It is also the third leading cause of cancer-related deaths in the United States when men and women are considered separately, and the second leading cause when both sexes are combined. It is expected to cause about 51,690 deaths during 2012.

The American Cancer Society’s most recent estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2012 are:

  • 103,170 new cases of colon cancer
  • 40,290 new cases of rectal cancer

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20 (5.1%). This risk is slightly lower in women than in men. A number of other factors might also affect a person’s risk for developing colorectal cancer.

Colonoscopies Are Saving Lives

The death rate from colorectal cancer has been dropping in both men and women for more than 20 years, and colonoscopy screening is one of the most significant reasons why. Polyps are being found and removed before they can develop into cancers. Screening is also allowing more colorectal cancers to be found earlier when the disease is easier to cure.

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), when colorectal cancer is found early and treated, the 5-year relative survival rate is 90%. As a result of increased colonoscopy screening and improved treatment methods, there are now more than 1 million survivors of colorectal cancer in the United States.

Screening Guidelines

Based on the latest data available and the recommendations of both American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) and American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE), GANV recommends the following.

Guidelines for both men and women:

  • General population ­– initial screening at age 45
  • African Americans (20% higher incidence and 45% higher mortality rate) – initial screening at age 45
  • Patients with one first-degree relative with CRC diagnosed at age ≥60 years – screening same as average-risk
  • Patients with one first-degree relative diagnosed with CRC at age < 60 years, or with two first-degree relatives diagnosed at any age – every 5 years beginning at age 40 or 10 years earlier than youngest relative’s age at diagnosis
  • If no polyps found – follow-up screening every 8 to 10 years
  • If polyp(s) found – follow-up screening every 3 to 5 years depending on the histologic polyp type

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