New CRC Screening Recommendations Posted for Adults Aged 45 to 75 Years

October 30, 2020
Dylann Cohn-Emery
Dylann Cohn-Emery

A draft recommendation statement was published by the United States Preventive Services Task Force stating that screening for colorectal cancer should start at the age of 45, according to a press release from the Task Force Bulletin.

A draft recommendation statement was published by the United States Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) stating that screening for colorectal cancer (CRC) should start at the age of 45, according to a press release from the Task Force Bulletin.

This is the first time the Task Force has recommended screening for people 45 to 49 years old and is considered a grade B recommendation. The Task Force continues to strongly recommend screening people aged 50 to 75, which is a grade A recommendation. The decision to screen adults 76 to 85 years old should be made on an individual bases, which is a grade C recommendation.

“Unfortunately, not enough people in the United States receive this effective preventive service that has been proven to save lives,” Alex Krist, MD, MPH, the Task Force chair, director of the Virginia Ambulatory Care Outcomes Research Network, and director of community-engaged research at the Virginia Commonwealth University Wright Center, said in a statement. “We hope that this recommendation to screen people ages 45 to 75 for CRC will encourage more screening and reduce people's risk of dying from this disease.”

African American adults are diagnosed with CRC more often than other populations and have a higher mortality rate from this disease. The disproportionate risk has been acknowledged by the Task Force, and they encourage clinicians to offer the recommended CRC screening to African Americans starting at 45 years of age.

“New science about CRC in younger people has enabled us to expand our recommendation to screen all adults starting at age 45, especially African American adults who are more likely to die from this disease,” Michael Barry, MD, Task Force member and director of the Informed Medical Decisions Program at Massachusetts General Hospital, said in a press release. “Screening earlier will help prevent more people from dying from CRC.”

In the United States, CRC is the third leading cause of cancer deaths. About a quarter of people 50 to 75 years old have never been screened despite strong evidence that screening for CRC is effective.

The draft recommendation also identifies 2 types of testing recommended to screen for CRC. This includes a direct visualization test and a stool-based test.

“There are many tests available that can effectively screen for CRC,” Task Force member Martha Kubik, PhD, RN, professor and director of the School of Nursing, College of Health and Human Services at George Mason University, said in a statement. “We urge primary care clinicians to discuss the pros and cons of the various recommended options with their patients to help decide which test is best for each person.”

The draft recommendation statement, draft evidence review, and draft modeling report can be found on the Task Force website at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/.

Task Force’s goal is to improve the health of Americans through evidence-based recommendations about clinical preventive services, including screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications. It is made up of an independent volunteer panel of national experts in preventive and evidence-based medicine.

Reference:

U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Issues Draft Recommendation on Screening for Colorectal Cancer. News Release. U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. October 27, 2020. Accessed October 30, 2020. https://bit.ly/3jKeelB