The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has recommended – for the first time - lowering the bowel cancer screening age from 50 to 45 for average-risk individuals.
We know this is a start, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.
Australia can’t afford to wait another 12 years for this country’s guidelines to be updated before taking action.
Of the top 10 cancers in Australia, bowel cancer is the only cancer that showed an increase in mortality rates from 2008 to 2018, projected to 2021 for people aged 45-49.
According to Aasma Shaukat, MD, MPH, of the University of Minnesota School of Medicine, “Today, a 45-year-old has the same risk as a 50-year-old had 10 years ago.”
Screening from 45 has been shown to be potentially cost-effective for the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program, would reduce the number of bowel cancer cases and deaths, and increase demand for colonoscopy services, depending on participation.
We fully recognise that lowering screening guidelines is one step forward for people aged 45 and older, but it doesn’t address the rise in young-onset bowel cancer, which is the deadliest cancer for Australians aged 25-34.
If you or a loved one, no matter your age, are experiencing bowel cancer symptoms, please talk with your GP and advocate for your own health.
Knowing your family history is also vital. You may need to begin screening even earlier depending on your individual circumstances.