2 conflicting colonoscopy guidelines

The jury is still out on several guidelines regarding screening colonoscopies, despite rising colorectal cancer rates. 

Colorectal cancer in the U.S. is on the rise in 2024, officially becoming the third most common cancer diagnosed in both men and women in the United States and expected to cause about 53,010 deaths throughout the year. 

In 2024, there will be an estimated 106,590 new cases of colon cancer, with rates in people younger than 55 increasing by 1% to 2% a year since the mid-1990s.

While experts recommend that patients undergo colonoscopies every 10 years, a new study suggests that this interval may safely be extended to 15 years in patients with no family history of colorectal cancer whose first colonoscopy is negative.

Additionally, groups are split on whether patients should undergo their first colonoscopies at 45 or 50. 

In 2023, the American College of Physicians updated its guidance for colorectal screenings in asymptomatic, average-risk individuals, raising the recommended screening age from 45 to 50. 

Research from the American Cancer Society disputes raising the screening age, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that routine colonoscopies for average-risk individuals begin at age 45. 

"The move to increase the recommended age for colorectal cancer screenings is a bit surprising to me given the rising rates of colorectal cancer we've seen in younger patients, and the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force's recommendation that colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45 for average-risk individuals," Shrujal Baxi, MD, chief medical officer at Iterative Health, told Becker's. 

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