CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — An alarming rise in colon cancer in young people is prompting medical experts to lower the age recommendation for people to get screened.
“I had never had a colonoscopy, the standard was 50,” said Jonathan Kurtz, a colon cancer survivor.
Jonathan Kurtz is a colorectal cancer survivor who knows firsthand how important changing the screening age can be.
“I had never had a colonoscopy, the standard was 50. Had the standard been 45 I might have not been diagnosed with stage three colorectal cancer at the age of 49,” said Kurtz.
That, in part, is why the United States Preventive Services Task Force now recommends screening to start at age 45.
“A lot of people at their first colonoscopy at 50 have polyps or can have cancer so that was part of the decision to hopefully catch polyps and lesions earlier before they are a problem,” said Dr. Jeremy Cumberledge, with Thomas Health Gastroenterology.
Doctors have seen alarming rates of younger Americans being diagnosed with colon cancers. A prime example is “Black Panther” star Chadwick Boseman who died at 43 from colon cancer.
The task force found more than ten percent of new colorectal cases are in people under age 50.
“The reason why screen because colon cancer notoriously has no symptoms. Often by the time there are symptoms, it’s too late or cancer has advanced,” said Dr. Cumberledge.
But the key is making the ability to get a colonoscopy easier. Now millions of younger Americans will have access to this procedure with no out-of-pocket costs.
“Now that the United State preventative task force has come out and said age 45 is the age, then Medicare and medicate and all insurance companies are expected to follow along. So, insurance should not be a barrier for that,” said Dr. Cumberledge.
For those who may be hesitant to go to the doctor or scared of the screening procedure…
“That’s no big deal. You have one day of drinking a prep, clearing out your system, and you are good to go. Get screened, it will save lives, and it might be yours,” said Kurtz.