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Talking to your patients: Colorectal cancer screening starts at age 45

Help your patients understand why they should get screened.
CRC graphic from AGA GI Patient Center
CRC graphic from AGA GI Patient Center

Your patients may be confused by conflicting guidance about when to start getting screened for colorectal cancer (CRC). AGA stands firmly behind our Multi-Society Task Force on CRC recommendations, and those of the U.S. Preventive Services Taskforce (USPSTF), the American Cancer Society, and other national medical societies and advocacy organizations, that colorectal cancer screening for average risk individuals should start at age 45.

But what should you say to your patients who were already unaware or unsure about getting screened and are now confused by the media coverage?

View the talking points below to help your patients understand screening guidelines and why they need to get screened for colorectal cancer.

  • One outlier medical group says colorectal cancer screening can wait until age 50, but the consensus of the government and multiple expert groups, including the American Gastroenterological Association, is that getting screened starting at age 45 could save your life.

  • Colorectal cancer will be the leading cause of cancer-related death among 20 to 49-year-olds by 2030. Putting off screening until age 50 is a grave mistake.

  • Screening for colorectal cancer can help find polyps in your colon and rectum early, sometimes even before they become cancer.

    A polyp is a mushroom-like or flat growth on the inside wall of your colon or rectum. Polyps grow slowly over many years and not all turn into cancer. I can remove these growths, which might mean that I can help stop the cancer before it starts, remove tissue that shows cancer, or let us start treatment early if cancer has already started.

  • There are several tests for colorectal cancer screening, including colonoscopy, but there are also tests that are noninvasive, meaning they don’t need tools that enter your body. Let’s talk about each test and which one you feel most comfortable using.

More information to share with your patients

For more health information to share with your patients, visit the AGA GI Patient Center.

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