American Cancer Society now recommends colorectal cancer screening begin at age 45

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - The American Cancer Society has updated its colorectal cancer screening guidelines - recommending that someone at "average risk" should start regular screening at the age of 45.

Screening doesn't necessarily mean colonoscopy. there are other tests, including stool-based tests, that can be less-invasive. The recommendations are not guidelines – which means that providers and patients will likely have to wait for insurance companies to catch up to the recommendations.

"It has to be individualized. If the patient is completely without symptoms, they'll need to make a decision about whether or not they'd want to pay for a colonoscopy out of pocket if their insurer does not cover it," said Dr. Marsh Willis, a gastroenterologist at Palmetto health. "That's a hard decision because a colonoscopy costs thousands of dollars even if no biopsies are done."

Dr. Willis says any change should prompt a trip to see your doctor: rectal bleeding, change in bowel habits, pain in rectum or abdomen and anemia should all be signs that you need to get to your doctor for some screening.

Dr. Willis said the best screening test is the one that gets done.

For more information about the new guidelines, click here.

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