Colorectal Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

Did Changes in American Cancer Society Guidelines Impact Colorectal Cancer Screening Patterns?

By: Cordi Craig
Posted: Monday, January 13, 2020

According to a study published in Cancer, colorectal cancer screening has more than doubled among individuals between the ages of 45 and 49 since May 2018, when the American Cancer Society lowered the recommended age for screening. Although this increase was considered to be positive news by many, similar abrupt changes have occurred after the release of updated guidelines and media campaigns for prostate and breast cancers.

“It is unknown whether the recent accelerating colorectal cancer screening rates among people [aged] 45–49 years will be sustained,” stated Stacey A. Fedewa, PhD, of the American Cancer Society, Atlanta, in a press release. “Commercial health insurers are only required to cover average-risk screening beginning at age 50, following recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Also, it’s possible those who quickly adopted updated guidelines may have been those at increased risk.”

The research team examined the 2018 National Health Interview Survey, an in-person household survey of colorectal cancer screening patterns among adults between the ages of 45 and 49 compared with adults between the ages of 50 and 59 in the United States. Individuals with a history of colorectal cancer (n = 27) or those who were missing screening data (n = 2,500) were omitted from the analysis. Overall, about 5,800 individuals were included in the study.

Among those respondents between the ages of 45 and 49, past-year colorectal cancer screening rates rose linearly from 4.8% to 6.6%, to 8.8% to 11.7% (P = .003). The estimated number of individuals screened between the ages of 45 and 49 increased from 226,656 participants in the first quarter to 592,351 participants in the fourth quarter. By contrast, past-year screening rates did not significantly change among respondents between the ages of 50 and 59.

Disclosure: For full disclosures of the study authors, visit

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